United Increases Miles Needed to Redeem Some Frequent Flyer Rewards

United Airlines Boeing 767-300; N653UA@ZRH;29.02.2012/641bt
Flickr/Aero Icarus

United Airlines revised its frequent flyer rewards program last night, “upping the number of miles needed for some of its most popular awards,” according to USA Today.

United spokesperson Rahsaan Johnson told USA Today the change was made to “to account for the increased cost of providing transportation.” Last month, United reported third quarter earnings of $379 million, up from $6 million the previous year but below the all-important analysts’ expectations.

Of course, you probably didn’t like United anyway: earlier this year the carrier finished dead last in the 23rd annual national Airline Quality Ratings, which ranks airlines based on U.S. Department of Transportation figures. United received more complaints than any other carrier.

Russian Art Museum Hosts Sylvester Stallone Art Retrospective

Sylvester Stallone
Flickr/Gage Skidmore

The Russian Museum in St. Petersburg is exhibiting a retrospective entitled “Sylvester Stallone. Painting. From 1975 Until Today,” Condé Nast Traveler reports. Apparently the museum has already showed works from everybody else.

According to the museum’s exhibit notes, Stallone planned to become an artist before he became an actor, even taking “a course in Switzerland.”

The images and characters found in Stallone’s paintings, in a way, replicate events in his creative and personal biography. But they are not portraits in the traditional understanding of the word. Frantic form and color are used in the large-scale transfigurations that breathe new life and energy into the people who surround the artist, or the celebrated actor who is the idol of millions. In his works, the subject matter reveals itself through, among other things, the title, words, letters and symbols painted directly on the surface of the canvas.

The exhibit opened Monday and runs through Jan. 13, 2014.Previously, the best known piece of artwork involving Stallone, of course, was the life-sized bronze Rocky statue that the Philadelphia Museum of Art displays at the bottom of its stairs.

Sly Stallone - Creative Ways To Go Up 'Rocky' Steps

Meet the Man who Drove Across the U.S. in Little Over a Day

Flickr/Noémie Assir

A 27-year-old man from Atlanta has become the fastest person to drive across the United States, obliterating the previous world record set in 2006. Ed Bolian whizzed his way from New York to Los Angeles in a mind-boggling 28 hours 50 minutes, breaking the prior record by more than two hours.

Bolian, who had wanted to make the record-breaking attempt since he was 18, says preparations for the journey took several years. First, he had to choose a car that would be suitable for such an intensive voyage. He settled on a 2004 Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG, although the standard model wouldn’t exactly do-Bolian outfitted the car with additional fuel tanks, bringing the car’s fuel capacity to 67 gallons. More gas meant fewer pit stops to fill up the tanks, with Bolian’s car able to travel 800 miles before it needed to be topped up.If that sounds like a really long way to drive before getting a break, or you know, taking a leak, don’t worry because Bolian was prepared for that too. He traveled with a team of two others who could take turns driving, and as for the bathroom part, well, the car was stocked with extra bottles and bedpans in case of emergencies.

Bolian also installed police scanners, radar detectors, GPS units with traffic capabilities, and a whole host of other gizmos into his vehicle. His car also boasts a CB radio and giant antenna that allowed him to call out to slow trucks on the road in an effort to get past them faster.

Venice Plans Theme Park on Toxic Waste Dump Site

Flickr/Dr. Savage

An amusement park built on the site of a toxic dump might not sound all that appealing right now, but an Italian company is hoping it will eventually become a draw card for tourists visiting Venice. The theme park is planned for an abandoned island in the city which was once home to an incinerator but may soon house roller coasters and a giant Ferris wheel, among other attractions.

The project has angered the city’s residents who are frustrated that the amusement park-like many things in Venice-caters to visitors but doesn’t do anything to enhance life for the locals. One conservationist said that the city is “always hostage to tourism.”The company behind the project, however, insists the amusement park will benefit the city. Not only will the toxic island be cleaned up ahead of construction, but the venture also will lead to the creation of at least 500 jobs. They say the project will create a better cultural experience for tourists, as a large portion of the amusement park will be dedicated to installations that depict the city’s history and the ecology of the Venetian lagoon system. The rides and attractions, they say, are necessary to pay for the cultural displays.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa Just Got a Little Bit Straighter

Flickr/Neil Howard

Pisa’s famous bell tower has just lost a little bit of its lean, according to a new report by researchers. The Italian tower, which has been tilting perilously for more than 800 years, has straightened by 2.5cm (1 inch) since 2001 thanks to a massive restoration project.

The Tower of Pisa has been leaning to one side pretty much from the beginning-the tower took nearly two centuries to build and it was obvious from the start that things were a little off kilter.

By the early 1990s, the tower was leaning nearly 18 feet, and each year, the tower was tilting more and more, with the incline increasing by more than a millimeter (0.04 inches) a year. That might not sound like much, but experts feared the building could collapse all together.It has taken engineers years to stabilize the tower, which included digging tunnels under one side of the structure to give its foundation room to shift, and attaching steel cables to the tower to keep it upright. It worked, and the tower has been straightening as predicted. In fact, engineers say that theoretically, they could straighten the tower completely. That, however, is unlikely to happen. More than 6 million people visit Pisa each year lured by the sight of the leaning tower, so while locals are happy to see the building restored, they’re not eager to see it straightened anytime soon.