The morning Odds & Ends |

The morning Odds & Ends

A girl dressed in the traditional Chinese costume floats in the air, supported by a rig of hidden metal rods, during a parade on the outlying Cheung Chau island in Hong Kong Sunday, May 15, 2005 to celebrate the Bun Festival. The festival is held every year to placate the spirits of people killed by pirates. Cheung Chau island revives bun-snatching tradition to celebrate the Buddha's birthday, a tradition that has been banned for 26 years because it was deemed to be too dangerous. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

HONG KONG At the strike of a gong Monday, 12 competitors scrambled up a 46-foot tower covered with Chinese buns and snatched away, relaunching a local tradition after a 26-year break.Secured by safety ropes, the contestants tossed plastic-wrapped buns into bags on their backs as hundreds of spectators watched from below. The climbing sent some buns flying from the tower.The buns stuffed with lotus seed paste were divided into three zones, with the higher buns worth more points. The competitor racking up the most points in three minutes was the winner.The victor had climbing in his blood. Kwok Ka-ming, who scored 453 points 30 more than his closest competitor is a firefighter by trade.This win is unexpected, Kwok said. When I got up there, I found it was very difficult. Up there you cant hear anything. I just focused on snatching.The bun-snatching contest on the suburban island of Cheung Chau was canceled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.Officials revived the tradition, part of an annual bun festival, this year after implementing improved safety measures. Workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training. A preliminary competition reduced the pool of climbers to 12 finalists.The festival originated hundreds of years ago when Cheung Chau residents dressed up as gods to ward off evil spirits they believed to be responsible for a plague, according to one account.

AMES, Iowa Thinking of a muffin and cuppa joe on your way to Saturn?Nutraffin, a spicy bite-sized muffin made from carrots, soy milk, peanut and wheat flour, is perfect for space travel.A team of Oklahoma State University students designed the product to win a contest at the NASA Food Technology Commercial Space Center at Iowa State University.Nutraffin is an interesting product and has a great potential of future space flight, said Cheryll Reitmeier, the contest coordinator.The muffin is high in fiber, protein and essential vitamins and minerals required by astronauts. It has a high calorie content that provides an energy boost and is low in sodium and iron.The annual competition was established in 2001 to increase food science awareness, officials said. Food scientists from NASA and commercial food companies evaluate the student products.The Oklahoma State team will present Nutraffin to NASA scientists this fall.

NORFOLK, Neb. So exactly how do you stop a charging deer in Wal-Mart? You take away its credit card.Shoppers at the Wal-Mart here wish they would have thought of that. It would have been a whole lot easier.A deer without a grocery list entered through the doors of the supermarket part of the store Thursday.The stores greeter didnt see the deer enter through the exit, but she did see the critter when it hit the slick floor and fell. It quickly recovered and went scurrying down the aisles.After doing a little looking around, the deer was tackled by a customer. Others of the human persuasion then tied the deers legs so it couldnt kick, placed it in a shopping cart and pushed it outside.Officials took the animal to nearby Ta-ha-zouka Park and released it.

HONG KONG The battle for casino supremacy in Macau has moved to a new frontier.The Macau government has tentatively agreed to grant land for the City of Dreams resort, featuring an underwater casino hall with a capacity of 450 gaming tables and 3,000 slot machines, one of its developers, Melco International Development Ltd. said in a statement.The hall will be surrounded by water and marine life, Melco Group Managing Director Lawrence Ho said in the statement.The $1 billion project also will house deluxe service apartment blocks, 2,000 hotel rooms, a shopping mall and a 4,000-seat performance hall over about 5 million square feet in floor space.The resort will be on Cotai strip, which developers hope to fashion as Macaus answer to the Las Vegas Strip, the statement said. Construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2005 and the complex has a target opening date of mid-2008.Steve Wynn is also building a casino in Macau. He just opened his $2.7 billion Wynn Las Vegas last month.Macau is expected to surpass Las Vegas as the worlds biggest gambling market in 2005, with the territorys casinos projected to bring in more than $5 billion in gambling revenue as newly affluent mainland Chinese flood to Macau to gamble.About 40 miles west of Hong Kong, former Portuguese colony Macau returned to Chinese rule in 1999.

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