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Etc...

They're fit to be tied

Vlasti, in northern Greece, is a small town with a reputation for especially strong family bonds. So it must have been agonizing for the residents in a municipal election last Sunday when two cousins sought the same office. Forced to choose sides, the townspeople went to the polls ... and gave each candidate exactly 477 votes. Because of that, the winner now will have to be determined according to national electoral rules – which means a coin flip.

A fishy assignment

A school of fish is going to fish school.

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Several fish species at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium are enrolled in an underwater academy where trainers are teaching them to live together in a new $47 million addition, set to open in April.

Shedd trainers are training the fish to eat on command and gather at a designated area of their pools to make feeding time as orderly as possible.

Among the first students are groups of sharks, a 4-foot, 150-pound Queensland grouper named Bubba, and a 4-foot, 50-pound blue Napoleon wrasse, a species that has blue blood and the ability to change its sex.

"What we're trying is probably the most complex training effort ever attempted with fish," said Bert Vescolani, vice president for the Shedd's aquarium collections.

Rachel Wilborn, a Shedd worker, recently used a mechanical clicker to catch the attention of some of her pupils, three zebra sharks named Freckles, Blondie and Seymour.

"They come right up to the side and ask for food, but to get it, they have to touch this target (a rubber bulb on the end of a pole) with their snouts," Wilborn said.

The three bumped the bulb and got tuna steaks as their reward.

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On a roll

Kristi Painter didn't bowl a perfect game last week, but she still ended the night on a quite a roll.

The college student in Flat Rock, Mich. was bowling her second game of the night when her ball came back with tape over the thumb hole. "I thought my dad was playing a joke on me," Painter told The Monroe Evening News.

Inside was an engagement ring.

"I was unwrapping it and someone hollered, 'Kristi, look!' It said, 'Kristi, will you marry me?' on the scoreboard. Then, Steve came down and gave me a big hug."

Steve Hill and Painter's father, Eric Painter, had concocted the bowling alley proposal together.

"It was really exciting," said Painter, who plays for the Flat Rock Senior Girls League. "I didn't have a clue."

The newly engaged Kristi still had to finish her game. She started by picking up the 10-pin that stood there waiting during all the excitement.

"After all the stuff that happened, I had to go shoot a 10-pin," she said. "And I made it. They said if you can get engaged and still get the 10-pin, that's pretty good."

The couple is planning a December 2004 wedding.

Eeww, that smells: New poll ranks objectionable odors

Spoiled meat, sweaty mosh-pit revelers, and even "politics" were among the candidates, but skunks were cited most often in a nose-holds-barred online survey aimed at determining which odors respondents think are nature's worst. It was sponsored by the makers of Renuzit air fresheners to coincide with the launch of a new odor-neutralizing product. The top five finishers in the Renuzit survey and the percentage of respondents who ranked each as the most offensive:

1. Skunks 59.7%
2. Rotten eggs 47.2
3. Dirty diaper bin 45.1
4. Bathroom odors 37.9
5. Dairy farms 31.6
– Reuters