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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 9:27 am 
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Not homeless: The owner of "Germany's smallest home" dreams big
12 August 2015
By Kathy Stolzenbach

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Maik Stolze poses in his portable home in Cologne - © Oliver Berg, dpa

Cologne, Germany (dpa) - Maik Stolze may have lost his job and his home, but he refuses to become homeless.

The entrepreneurial 46-year-old has been living for the past two months in what might be the smallest home in Germany.

At 2.1 metres long, 70 centimetres wide and 1.2 metres high, the tiny trailer has been kitted out with everything Stolze needs, including electric heating, an alarm system, a laptop and all manner of space-saving solutions. Electricity is generated by solar panels on the roof.

Now Stolze has patented the idea as part of his plan to get back on his feet again. The idea was the result of a desperate situation, he said. "I didn't want a flat that the state pays for. But I also didn't want to sleep under the bridge in my sleeping bag." Stolze can attach his new home to his bike and tow it where he pleases. He is currently camping on a car park run by local authorities near the western German city of Cologne.

The LVR group has no problem with Stolze staying there. "For us it's a question of humanity. Maik Stolze isn't bothering anyone and is always very friendly," a local government spokesman said. "He can stay as long as he likes. Our employees are aware of the situation. No one is going to send him away." Stolze is even treated by his new neighbours to breakfast in bed. Two government employees place rolls at his door every morning. He makes coffee on a gas stove. Some white curtains lend the place an element of coziness.

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Maik Stolze poses inside trailer in Cologne - © Oliver Berg, dpa

Stolze, who is a locksmith by trade, has given his tiny mobile home the name "Homer S 2015", a living concept which he has now registered with his own patent. "Homer stands for my favourite television series, The Simpsons," Stolze said. The name also features his initial and the year of construction. Stolze has experience in this area, having previously worked for a major mobile home manufacturer. He lost his previous job after having a heart attack followed by an operation to remove a non-malignant tumour.

Stolze struggled to meet rent and got increasingly deeper in debt. He was kicked out of his flat as a result. But now he has developed a name for himself as "the camper of Deutz train station." His self-reliance and determination have attracted praise from the local community.

Stolze earns his daily keep by collecting empty glass bottles, which can be returned in shops for a deposit in Germany. This earns him between 40 and 60 euros a day (between 44 and 67 dollars). He spends 10 to 12 hours each day combing the streets for bottles. "I need roughly 6 euros each day. I pay back my debts with the rest." In six weeks he has been able to pay back about one-third of his debts, which totalled 8,500 euros (more than 9,400 dollars). "Everyone I owe money to will get it back to the penny," he said.

"Germany's smallest house", as the sign on the trailer says, has become something of a local tourist attraction. Throngs of people come to see the mobile home and meet the optimistic man inside. Those who take the time to read the small board hanging on the side of the trailer discover the background to Stolze's living situation. "I think it's admirable that you live like this," one passerby told him as her friend threw a euro in his donation box.

Stolze's home is packed with cutlery, tools and other small items, all stored in the floor or beneath the ceiling. He carries his valuables with him when he is not home and showers at friends' houses or at a nearby homeless shelter. He is determined to live independently without relying on the state. "I want to earn my own money," he said. "I have my pride." Now he is hoping to find an investor for the "Homer S 2015" series. "Maybe then I'll have a normal life again in a flat. Until then, I'm making the most of my situation."

The term homeless does not apply to him, he says. No matter how small the property, he is still a home owner.

Source: dpa.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:40 pm 
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Forget glamping, try CRAMPING: The world's smallest caravan that has a double bed and fully-equipped kitchen... despite being just eight-feet long
By Katie Amey
13 August 2015

This miniature caravan might look better suited to 'cramping' than 'glamping' - but despite its diminutive size, it still boasts a full-size double bed and fully-equipped kitchen.

The Tardis-like creation has been taking campsites by storm this summer because at just eight feet long, it's so small that it can be easily towed like a trailer. But its nifty design also hides a secret compartment that slides out to almost double the living space in less than 30 seconds, meaning it can comfortably sleep two adults with room to spare.

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The Gidget is a miniature caravan, which despite its small size, boasts a double bed and fully-equipped kitchen

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Made from timber and fibreglass, the retro-looking pod is chock full of modern conveniences, like a flatscreen TV

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The Tardis-like creation has been taking campsites by storm this summer

The retro-looking pod reveals a luxurious living space packed with all modern conveniences, including a rotating entertainment unit with a 24-inch flatscreen TV and stereo system with surround sound. The bed can be rearranged to make a comfy lounge complete with a pull-out table, while a compartment at the back of the caravan lifts up to reveal an open-air kitchen with two hobs, a fridge and a sink.

The Gidget, as its known, comes in two models: the standard Bondi and the slightly larger Noosa. The Noosa also boasts a toilet and shower unit. The Gidget, made from timber and fibreglass on a metal chassis, is the brainchild of camping-mad couple Glenn Wills and Christine Bree, who took inspiration from vintage 'teardrop trailers' of the 1930s. The top of the range Gidget will set buyers back 22,000 Australian dollars, or around £10,000. Chris, from Brisbane, Australia, said: 'Both Glenn and I are campers, we love the great outdoors, and at the end of the day we like to sit around a campfire under the stars, rather than indoors as you do with a motorhome.

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The back of the caravan lifts up to reveal an open-air kitchen (pictured left) with two hobs, a fridge and a sink
With the easily-transportable Gidget, avid campers can pitch up just about any beach


'We were doing all this with a tent but after years of hassle, we decided that we wanted to find a way to enjoy the great outdoors - but take the most important things with us so we can camp in true comfort and style. From the very beginning we stayed true to our vision to make a truly aesthetic camper trailer where everything worked quickly and easily and was built to last, that had the important things you need for a comfortable camping holiday and had some luxuries you wouldn't expect. It also needed to be environmentally friendly and fully self-sufficient,' she adds. 'The unique patented design of the slide-out allows our design to take the teardrop caravan to another level.

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When extended, the lounge area nearly doubles, and there is plenty of space to comfortably fit two adults

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There's also a three foot skylight above the bed (left), while those who want to cook in the great outdoors will undoubtedly be thrilled with the fully-equipped kitchen (right)

'When you arrive you quickly and simply open and extend the slide-out, nearly doubling your cabin space. We are the only teardrop in the world that has the unique patented slide-out which converts our cute and compact camper to almost double the internal space in one simple and quick action. Unlike most traditional teardrop designs where your feet and part of your body are under the kitchen bench we have a whole queen-size bed and a spacious cabin, plus the large slide-out area.

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A camping-mad couple first came up with the design, explaining that The Gidget is about 'lifestyle and the ease of being able to get away at no notice'

'The design allowed us to include two large hopper windows on either side of the slide-out, a three-foot skylight above your bed so you can sleep under a million stars but out of the weather, and a perfect location for a solar panel system,' the creative pair continue. We also wanted a kitchen you'd be proud to use and show off, as a kitchen is the heart of a home. When our Gidget owners go glamping, they can enjoy cooking and entertaining their family without being stuck inside an RV. The Gidget kitchen is the heart of the campsite and if the weather isn't so nice we just put our 14ft dome Gazebo and keep on enjoying our camping out of the weather. The Gidget is about lifestyle, the simplicity and ease of being able to get away at no notice, arrive and be set up easily in under a minute and start relaxing straight away. Having a comfortable, warm, dry bed at the end of an active day of sightseeing, bushwalking or kayaking is a must.'

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 6:51 pm 
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New York 2015 - FOUR THOUSAND sleeping on the streets, 80 homeless encampments in the city and beggars making $75 a day as arrests for panhandling and street drinking plunge
By Shekhar Bhatia
4 September 2015

They are sleeping in front of the Empire State building, sprawled in front of the doors of Macy's, and panhandling outside Grand Central.

New York is in the grip of a homeless epidemic so bad that it has raised fears of the city slipping back into the disorder of the 1970s and 1980s. The city's police chief this week said that as many as 4,000 people are now sleeping rough in the city, in a crisis which even the city's ultra-liberal mayor has finally acknowledged after months of denials.

Police officers have identified 80 separate homeless encampments in the city, 20 of which are so entrenched that they have their own furniture, while its former mayor Rudolph Giuliani has spoken scathingly of how his successor is failing to keep order.

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Busiest location: Homeless beggars have become part of the fabric of 34th Street, one of the busiest in the city, with them looking for change from shoppers flocking to Macy's, one of the city's biggest tourist draws

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Presence: Grand Central station, another of the city's biggest tourist draws and used by tens of thousands of commuters every day, is used for begging

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Elite address: Columbus Circle, beside Central Park, is the location of a Trump Hotel, the Time Warner building where apartments change hands for as much as $25 million - and an increasing number of homeless people

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In the shadows: Mike Poshkin, 28, is living and begging within sight of the Empire State Building, one of the world's most famous buildings. He makes as much in a day as someone working an eight hour day in a minimum wage job

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Another typical site: A homeless man sites outside the entrance to Madison Square Gardens, the city's biggest events venue

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Street scene: New York's yellow cabs are the backdrop to this homeless person's trolley full of posessions

This week New York governor Andrew Cuomo said bluntly that 'it's hard not to conclude that we have a major homeless problem in the city of New York' while the city's police chief Bill Bratton described the scale of it as 'a tipping point'. And even Bill de Blasio, who has spent months refusing to acknowledge that the growing scale of rough sleeping was anything other than a 'perception problem' finally said there was 'a reality problem'.

Now Daily Mail Online can reveal how a toxic combination of cheap drugs and softly-softly policing are fueling the epidemic - and that beggars are making as much money as someone on the city's minimum wage in cash each day. Homeless people spoken to by Daily Mail Online said that they were making $70 dollars every day from panhandling. The amount is the same as working an eight-hour day in a minimum wage job in New York, where the state-mandated minimum wage is $8.75.

One homeless man - a former professional who had become a drug addict and ended up one the streets - said: 'People... are very kind and and give me food and on a good day I can get about 70-80 dollars which shows you the kindness of New Yorkers.' And Patrick Kolher, who begs outside the Trump International Hotel at Central Park West, said he regularly saw donations of $70 a day into his collection tin.

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Action at last: A homeless 'encampment' in Harlem was the first of 80 identified by police to be targeted in the first signs of a crackdown this week

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Go: Anthony Rainey, 61, who said he was a Marine Corps veteran, was forced to move from the spot where he and others had been living rough in Harlem, near the 125th Street Metro North station

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Self-proclaimed progressive Bill de Blasio became mayor after a campaign criticizing the police. He is seen arriving at the US Open opening gala this week. Orders: Bill Bratton, the NYPD commissioner, said his officers would be taking action - but figures show how the number of arrests for anti-social behavior have collapsed under self-proclaimed progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio (right, going to the opening gala for the US Open)

If the amount of money they can make is encouraging people on to the streets there is little policing to drive them off. Daily Mail Online has established figures which show how little police action has been taken against the problem. Arrests for offenses normally associated with the homeless and street dwellers and assessed under the quality of life bracket, have dropped drastically since the election of Bill de Blasio as mayor.

The self-proclaimed champion of 'the progressive agenda' came into office after a campaign in which he was critical of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactics. He set himself as a reformer who would move away from the aggressive policing championed by former mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his successor Michael Bloomberg, which was credited with dramatically cutting crime in the city, which went from being one of the most dangerous in the US, to one of the safest. But figures provided by the NYPD suggest that their 35,000 officers - of whom around 20,000 are on regular, uniformed patrol duties - are making far fewer arrests for the sort of quality of life crimes which blight streets.

The department provided figures for previous years, but only those for the first three months of this year. They show that in 2007, for the consumption of alcohol on streets, 129,073 people received criminal charges. Over the years the numbers went up or remained steady until de Blasio was elected. This year, during the first three months, police summonsed only 12,477 which means at that rate, less than half of those arrested in Bloomberg's last year of 2013 will have faced charges. In crimes such as littering, urinating, exposure, spitting and pan handling, the number of arrests have also dropped.

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Squalor: A homeless man with the cardboard boxes he uses for sleeping on. A Sanitation Department official car beside him is taking no action

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Homeless in NYC: A passerby gives Whitney Cloons change as she begs across the street from the Lincoln Center, where ballet and opera are enjoyed

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Setting up home: A homeless man in Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan. Police have identified 80 encampments across the city

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Appeal: Joe Petter, 50, tells passers-by he served in the 82nd Airborne Division, and wants work as a plumber. He begs to get together the money for a hostel place.

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All too common sight: New York's streets have become home to as many as 4,000 people this summer. The problem is found not just in busy areas where tourists are common, but parts of the city including the trendy East Village, close to New York University

In 2013, there were 8372 charges for littering. In 2014 when de Blasio took office the number dropped to 7886. For the first three months of 2015, there were 1227 arrests. People who were accused of urinating in public faced courts 29,579 times in 2013. This figure fell to 28,609 last year when the current mayor took power and the first three months of 2015 saw 4,547 summonsed. Arrests for exposure in 2013 were 723. In 2014 the number stood at 619 and for the first quarter of this year, the figure was 108. Police held for spitting numbered 2230 in 2013.Last year it was down to 1827 and until March of this year the figure stood at 324. In 2013 there were 56,103 arrests for disorderly conduct. Yet between January 1 2015 and the end of March there were 7005, which is again heading for a 50 per cent reduction.

A New York Police Department spokesman told Daily Mail Online: 'If someone is stopped for aggressive panhandling and they have no ID they will be arrested.' But only 50 people were arrested for the offense up until March this year, while in 2013 there were 310 and last year 201 in the same period.

    HOMELESS IN NEW YORK: THE WOMAN WHO BEGS FOR CASH - AND HAS DRUGS DROPPED IN HER COLLECTING TIN

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  • Whitney Cloons (pictured) admits she is not only given cash by New Yorkers, but provided with drugs when they are dropped into her collection box.
  • She sits on the pavement close to Central Park and the Lincoln Centre, with her dog and has been there for two years.
  • Her life changed, she says, after her father died and at the age of 21 she left the family home in Hudson Valley, Upstate New York, and moved to the streets of Manhattan.
  • Contact with her relations has been virtually lost and she looks to New Yorkers and tourists to help keep her alive.
  • She and her boyfriend split up during the day to sit at different points and re-unite in the evenings to sleep near a church on 71st street.
  • She has health problems, regularly scratches blisters on her skin and is losing her teeth at the age of 25. Half of her top front row have gone and the rest are rotting. 'I have bad hygiene sure I do' she said. 'But when you sleep on the pavement, brushing your teeth isn't the first thing on your mind.'
  • Drugs have played a huge part in the problems in her life and she regularly smokes dope. 'I like weed and people who pass by sometimes drop it into the box' she said. 'They also love my dog and I make sure she's fed before I eat. I know people think a woman of my age shouldn't be wasting her life. But I am not doing it on purpose. I have to live on the streets. My life is a mess. I was living in a flat and I didn't keep up with the rent. I didn't have a job and I started hanging out with people already on the streets and now I am here. In the four years, I have noticed a lot more people on the streets. But whoever is in charge just can't do enough. The homeless in New York are a big problem. But they need to do more. The people who pass by can be very hard on you too. Sometimes I have to ask ten people before anybody will actually tell me the time as I don't have a watch. The worst part is the way some people look at me. They think I am crazy. But I am just struggling.'

A police spokesman declined to answer a question of whether police under de Blasio have been instructed to have a softer approach to street crime. This week, however, Bratton said that his officers would be tackling the problem - with the department's chief of patrol describing how they would be asking the homeless 'why are you out here? Where are you from?', the New York Times reported. Bratton provided the first official estimate of the scale of the problem, saying there were as many as 4,000 sleeping on the New York streets, compared to 56,000 in homeless shelters.

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'Chase them': Rudolph Giuliani has been severely critical of the response to the homelessness crisis, saying that police have to act to get people off the streets

The city's laws mean that anyone who is homeless is entitled to a place in a shelter. Of the 3,000 to 4,000 on the streets, Bratton said: 'It's a number that's been growing over a period of time. 'It's reached a tipping point, however, I think, to use that term, that it did become more visible this summer.' Officers are now moving through a total of 80 homeless 'encampments' which they have identified. One was removed this week in Harlem, an increasingly trendy area which has seen complaints of aggressive beggars around its busiest stations.

But the action only goes some way towards meeting vocal criticism made by Giuliani of the current state of policing. He revealed last month how he had complained at his local police precinct about a homeless man who was urinating near his Upper East Side home. He told NBC 4 New York that his message was: 'You chase 'em and you chase 'em and you chase 'em and you chase 'em, and they either get the treatment that they need or you chase 'em out of the city. I had a rule. You don't get to live on the streets.'

That put him at odds with de Blasio's administration, who say that street homelessness is related to a growth in the number of homeless people overall - which they say is because of Giuliani and Bloomberg. They claim that increasingly expensive rents are making it impossible for the poorest to live in New York, leading them to move into shelters.

However another factor appears to be leading to the increasing dysfunction on the streets - a wave of cheap drugs, especially heroin, which can be bought in New York for just $10 a fix. A leading expert charged with treating heroin addicts in New York has described the drug problem as an 'epidemic'. Monika Taylor, who runs drug treatment at a hospital in Syracuse, NY, and who has been tasked by New York state to look at the problem, told Daily Mail Online the crisis is being fueled by the cheap price of the drug on the streets.

    HOMELESS IN NEW YORK: HOW HEROIN SENT A PROFESSIONAL FROM CHAMPAGNE LAUNCHES TO SIDEWALKS

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    He had a glittering career ahead of him, was on a decent salary and putting to good use his sports marketing degree. But Mike Poshkin (pictured) could not resist the lure of cheap heroin and other drugs that came his way. Now the former public relations specialist has a life on the pavements of New York.

    By his own admission, he has hit rock bottom. Whereas before, he commuted from an apartment in Brooklyn, attended champagne launches and took part in executive meetings, the 28-year-old now has to scrape enough money to eat and spends hour-after-hour reminding himself that he has a name. 'It is all my own fault,' said Poshkin, who begs near the Empire State Building on 34th Street. 'I just fell into the heroin trap and became reliant on it. I was a junkie and I lost my job because of my unreliability. Family and friends and my colleagues tried to help, but it was too late.'Then I got busted for possession and using heroin and served 15 months in Monmouth County Jail. My prison record does me no favors. But I was clean of drugs for a couple of years and I have shown that I can turn things around.'

    But after his break from heroin, he started injecting again and found the street price of $10 a bag fitted easily with his budget. 'There is so much heroin around and if you look at most corners, you'll find dealers around. Once you get hooked like me, you have had it. It is a downward spiral and everything can be gone in a few weeks or months. I never thought I'd be sleeping out here and be homeless. It is very dangerous and tough in so many ways. I have been to the shelters but they are dirty and unsafe. I've heard of people being robbed and losing everything. I sleep in the parks when I can and I have a couple of mates that I have met. We take it in turns to look after our stuff. I sit on my suitcase and it goes everywhere with me. People wake you up early and move you on. You never sleep properly because of the fear and also because of the noise, the heat and those type of things. I stick with the other guys at night for protection and I look after them and their stuff.'

    He said he chose a popular area of New York because tourists were sympathetic and likely to give money and the streets were more busy during the day when folk were at work in other parts. He added:' People say things to me like 'get a job'. But it is a impossible to get a job when you don't have an address. Others are very kind and give me food and on a good day I can get about $70 to $80 which shows you the kindness of New Yorkers. I am doing my best. I have been under a detox program and have been clean for 28 days. I want to get a job and get my life back and for people to call by my name and to know me again. I've managed the drugs and now I have to get off from the sidewalks.'

A clampdown on doctors who gave prescription drugs without checking whether they were in danger of becoming addicted has also fueled the crisis - as it has prompted people to turn from prescription drugs to cheap heroin. 'Heroin addiction is a New York State wide problem and the number of addicts is going up and up drastically' she said. 'At our hospital the numbers of heroin addicts has gone up so much, we cannot admit everybody and sadly some of those people who were on our treatment waiting lists have died through overdosing. At the end of 2013 we had 500 patients and a 300 people on the waiting list. Today we have 600 patients and 500 on the waiting list. It is getting worse and I know other hospitals around New York have the same problem.'

Source: Daily Mail UK.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:50 pm 
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Tiny Oakland house moves up the block from hospital
By Jill Tucker
Sunday, October 18, 2015

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At first light Sunday, the little house rolled off the corner lot where it had spent the last 81 years and took a hard left under the BART tracks.

Less than two hours later, under a blue sky, the Oakland home was home, surrounded by big trees rather than tall buildings.

It was a happy ending for a house with a storybook history, one that featured an elderly man who refused to sell the place his parents built, the only home he ever knew, even as a five-story parking garage and a hospital sprang up around it and cast shadows on the citrus trees planted near his front stoop.

When 87-year-old Lawrence Bossola died in 2001, the hospital bought the property, finally acquiring the land it needed to expand. But it didn’t need the house, and officials held out little hope anyone would be willing to cover the nearly six-figure cost to move it. They were wrong. Dozens of people wanted the little house at the corner of 52nd Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Some erroneously thought they might be able to get it up to Ukiah or across the bridge to Alameda. Instead, two couples with a fourplex and a plot of land a block away from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland were the perfect fit.

On Sunday morning, the street lights still on, one of the new co-owners of the house, David Stone, stood off to the side, watching workers prepare to pull the house off the hospital’s lot. He was worried. It didn’t look level. Indeed, the house was slightly askew, tipping a bit on the right side. His general contractor assured him that all was well.

Passes under BART tracks

These guys, the house-moving company, had never dropped one yet, said contractor Scott Cameron. Still, as the little three-bedroom house rolled off the curb and took a left under the BART tracks, the contractor, veteran police officers, neighbors and city workers shook their heads in disbelief. “I’m glad to be a part of this,” said Michael Patterson, lead electrician for Oakland, ensuring the house cleared the hanging stop light at the intersection. “When they said they were going under the BART tracks, I said, ‘Are you sure?’” He was right to question that. The little house, held a few feet off the ground by tractor-trailer-size wheels, slipped under the tracks with little clearance.

As it rolled down Martin Luther King Jr. Way, several curiosity seekers snapped pictures and smiled. “We were up early, so we said let’s go look at a house move,” said neighbor Andrea Pinal. “I think it’s nice they saved it and found a way to keep it in the community.”

Fits right in

The house rolled a block south, took what appeared to be an impossible right turn up the curb and into the hospital’s employee parking lot, then took another hard right followed by a hard left where a chain-link fence had been rolled back, and finally onto the empty plot of land behind the fourplex. Once it was settled at the back of the lot, everyone smiled. Although still sitting atop wheels, it looked almost as if it had always been there, nestled near tall trees.

Kathleen Stone, Stone’s wife and also one of the new owners, smiled. Moving the structure and demolishing the basement cost about $75,000. After spending $100,000 more or so for a new foundation and updates per building code, the Stones plan to rent out the home, perhaps to a family, she said. “It calls for that, doesn’t it?” she added.

These houses matter, said Cathy Leonard, board co-chairwoman for the Santa Fe Community Association and Neighbors. Mr. Bossola mattered. “I was so glad they didn’t want to demolish the house,” she said, adding that the new location probably looks a lot like the original land when the home was built in 1934.

Change of address

Minutes later, Doug Stone walked over to the house and pulled off the board that held the metal house numbers: 5204. It wasn’t the correct address anymore. He gave the plaque to hospital workers, who wanted to frame it and put it in the hospital’s new $50 million, six-story outpatient center, which will be officially under construction after a ground breaking next week and with a scheduled opening date in 2017.

The little house has a direct line of sight to its old stomping grounds. “It’s home now,” Leonard said. “It’s home.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2015 9:09 pm 
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New York man creates 'sovereign nation' in Utah
October 24, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A New York man is building his own sovereign nation called Zaqistan on a remote piece of land in Utah.

Zaq Landsberg has created a yellow-and-red flag, official-looking passports and a border patrol gate guarded by a giant robot sentry for the realm, KSL-TV reported. "The conceptual goal is I want it to become a real country," said Landsberg, its president. "I mean, that goal is not going to happen. It's impossible, but going through the motions, (I'm) trying to make that happen." He's even created a motto for the land of Zaqistan: "Something from nothing."

When he bought the sage-brush covered stretch of Utah backcountry a decade ago, the city-dwelling Landsberg was amazed at how removed it was. It's about 60 miles from the nearest town and 15 miles away from a paved road. While he calls the area harsh and desolate, it's also appealing. "Out here, it's not that crazy of an idea to have your own little spot, and to do your own thing and to have your own space and the privacy to do that," said Landsberg, who's hesitant to reveal the exact location of Zaqistan for fear of people getting lost trying to find it.

While he knows the 4-acre piece of land equipped with a supply bunker won't actually become its own recognized country, Lansdsberg said building it is an artistic exploration in how far he can push the concepts of land ownership and sovereignty. "My goal is to, like, probe those little areas," Landsberg said. "To try and find what that does mean."

He pays property taxes to Box Elder County, about 160 miles north of Salt Lake City, though he refers to the payments as tributes. He wants to make his little nation look legitimate. The passports look and feel real, and visitors like his friend Mike Abu can get them stamped as they enter and exit the country. "Legitimacy is one of those things that's fairly subjective to begin with," Abu said. "But when we're talking about it, does it exist? There's no question about it."

Information from: KSL-TV, http://www.ksl.com/
Source: AP

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 31, 2016 5:58 pm 
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No-rent lifestyle: Argentine man's lived 40 years in a cave
By ALVARO MEDINA
31 July 2016

SAN PEDRO DE COLALAO, Argentina (AP) -- Pedro Luca has lived in a cave in northern Argentina for 40 years.

The 79-year-old survives without running water or electricity in his cavern high in a mountain in northern Tucuman province. When he gets hungry he picks up his rifle and goes hunting or heads on a three-hour trek down the mountain to the nearest settlement of San Pedro de Colalao. A creek is his main source of water. "It's the purest, richest water there is," he says.

His cave mates? Eleven roosters and two goats that roam the mountainside during the day and return at night looking for shelter from pumas and other predators. The crows of the roosters wake him up at around 3 a.m. every morning and he begins the day by starting a fire. "Fire is magical," he says, as the smoke fills his cave.

Luca has become a legend in San Pedro de Colalao, and town dwellers often give him food and supplies. He buys candles, yeast and corn with a government old-age pension, worth about $100-$200, that he collects at the town's post office. His only technological gadget is a small, battery-powered radio, but he has a hard time tuning into stations because the signal is weak up the mountain. He walks three hours every day, climbing the steep mountainside to reach his cave. Luca's skin is weather-beaten and he has few teeth left, but he seems much younger than a man who is almost 80.

Luca says he always wanted to live in isolation in the wild, even as a boy. He was raised by his grandfather in San Pedro de Colalao, which he first left at age 14 to travel northern Argentina and earn a living transporting coal to Bolivia. He returned to the area and the cave. Word of his solitary lifestyle spread and he now gets occasional visits from tourists and schoolchildren. "I never asked myself why I chose to live here," he says. "There was another cave nearby but I liked this one better. Sometimes, I think that I would have liked to travel the world, see Europe. But there's a lot of sea in the middle of it all and you have to have the time to cross that sea."

Source: AP

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2018 7:14 am 
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Buy a sofa, hire a helper: Handy expands retail partnerships
By JOSEPH PISANI
January 7, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) -- These days, lots of customers don't want to just buy sell TVs and sofas. They also want someone to come over to hang up the flat screen or put the furniture together.

Handy CEO Oisin Hanrahan says that's been an opportunity for the company to expand its partnerships with retailers. Launched nearly six years ago as an online platform where people could hire professionals to clean homes or put up a ceiling fan, the company has moved into partnerships with stores and shopping sites to offer its services to customers. On Wayfair, for example, people buying furniture can also hire someone to assemble it for them as they check out. At Walmart, a test at its Atlanta stores lets shoppers hire Handy professionals at the register when they buy a TV or furniture.

More retailers are offering similar services: Amazon shoppers can hire workers; and Ikea recently said it would buy TaskRabbit to offer assembly help when shoppers buy furniture.

Hanrahan talked recently with the Associated Press about the competition and why retailers want to offer these services. The questions and answers below have been edited for clarity.

Q: Why can't people hang their own TVs or assemble their own bookcases?

A: I don't think people can. There are three places people learned these skills: home, school and work. And if you think about the changes that have happened over the last couple of decades at home, school and work, it makes sense that people don't have these technical skills anymore. At home, there's been a change in consumptive behavior from repair to replace; people don't repair stuff anymore, they replace it. At work, manufacturing in the U.S. is in huge decline. So companies aren't teaching people how to repair machines or how to do technical work. And schools, because of the decline of manufacturing, aren't teaching this tradecraft anymore. The second thing is that I think we are seeing people make this tradeoff between time and money.

Q: Are you worried about the competition?

A: So Amazon is definitely doing this, but they're doing it for themselves, for people who buy things on Amazon. What we don't see is Amazon offering that service to other retailers. So that creates a lot of space for us to go and serve those other retailers.

Q: What's in it for the retailers?

A: The first is that people are more likely to buy when they can have a product assembled. Second, the average order value goes up. People actually buy bigger baskets when they don't have to do the assembly. So instead of buying a table with four chairs I might buy a table with six chairs. The third one is that returns go down. The reason it goes down is that customers are happier when somebody professional assembles their product for them. The fourth thing retailers see is that the repeat purchase rate goes up.

Q: How many professionals are on the Handy platform?

A: 80,000 people that are fully background checked and insured and ready to work.

Source: AP

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Cutiepie Snoozikin Scrupelshrumpilstilskin's "major pain in the butt"
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