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News Quirks 04.25.07


Published April 25, 2007 at 4:00 p.m.

Curses, Foiled Again Police investigating a motel robbery in Kingsport, Tenn., got a detailed description of the suspect from the desk clerk. Minutes later motel guest Christopher T. Carroll, 18, entered the office, claiming to have seen the robber flee and given chase. He said he had recovered some of the stolen money, which he handed over. "He was acting as if he was a good Samaritan," Det. Frank Light said, noting, however, that Carroll perfectly matched the description given by the clerk, right down to the scabs running up and down his arms. A search of his room turned up the remaining cash and pantyhose identical to those the robber used to cover his head.

D'oh! New Zealand arborist Gavin Finch, 31, was topping a large pine tree when a falling branch broke his leg. He remained stuck halfway up the 130-foot tree for 95 minutes before frustrated rescuers decided the only way to reach him was by helicopter. The Wellington-based Westpac rescue chopper lowered a paramedic to attach a line to Finch, but as it lifted him clear of the tree, it swung sideways and hit another tree, causing Finch additional cuts and bruises.

Don't Be a Showoff An iguana with an erection that lasted longer than a week had its penis amputated in Belgium. Veterinarians at Antwerp's Aquatopia were unable to treat the animal's engorged organ and decided removal was the only way to avoid infection. "It doesn't bother him. He doesn't know what amputation means," vet Luc Lambrecht said, pointing out that the operation won't slow the iguana's sexual activity because iguanas come with two penises.

Mensa Reject of the Week John Ferrell, 22, of Clarksville, Tenn., suffered serious burns after he loaded a barbecue grill with hot coals into the bed of his 1978 Chevrolet pickup, and it ignited a nearby propane tank, engulfing the vehicle in flames. "Obviously," Montgomery County Sheriff's official Ted Denny said, "we would urge people not to drive with burning grills in their vehicle."

Do-It-Yourself Follies Reporting that nail-gun injuries have tripled since 1991 to about 37,000 a year, even though work-related injuries during this time remained stable, the Centers for Disease Control concluded that the increase "likely corresponds to an increase in availability during the 1990s of inexpensive pneumatic nail guns and air compressors (to power the nail guns) in home hardware stores."

Slightest Provocations Landon Schoenefeld, 25, the chef at the Bulldog restaurant in Minneapolis, objected to a bartender's request to serve a salad with the dressing on the side. While arguing with the bartender, Schoenefeld grabbed a full mustard bottle and doused the bartender and several nearby customers, according to the newspaper City Pages, which reported that the owner fired the chef and the bartender on the spot.

* Police in Oceanside, Calif., reported that golfer Jason Jennings was badly beaten during a profanity-laced argument with another golfer, Bishop Michael Babin, 51, minister of Genesis Ministries International, who accused Jennings of trying to steal his ball. Witnesses said the 6-foot-10 Babin knocked Jennings to the ground, where one of Babin's companions kneed Jennings in the face and stomped on his head until he lost consciousness. After Babin, a 2005 nominee for Oceanside's Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Award, was arrested, his attorney, Neal Gibbons, stated, "The tension and fighting escalated way beyond his expectations or his desire."

* Walburga Schaller, 76, and Robert Smith, 52, were walking down a Toronto street in opposite directions, both using canes. As they neared each other, neither altered course to give way to the other. Canada's Globe and Mail reported that they barely missed each other and exchanged insults, then obscenities. Witnesses said the two began hitting each other with their canes and continued until Smith's final blow knocked Schaller to the ground. Police arrested Smith, who received a 2-year suspended sentence, although Judge Howard Borenstein called Schaller's actions aggressive, declaring, "Despite her age and her cane, she is not a shrinking violet."

Lucky Dog Mark Wiens, the chief financial officer of Menu Foods, sold nearly half his shares in the troubled pet-food manufacturer just three weeks before it announced a massive recall because some of its products were suspected of sickening and killing animals. Wiens, who received $102,900 for 14,000 shares, which after the recall would have been worth $62,440, called his good fortune "a horrible coincidence."

Pandas with a Purpose Researchers at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Base in China's Sichuan province began contacting paper mills to process high-fiber panda dung into high-quality paper. Researcher Liao Jun said he and his colleagues got the idea after they found paper made from elephant dung during a visit to Thailand. They believe droppings from the center's 40 bamboo-fed pandas will produce quality paper and that its users "probably won't even be able to tell it's from panda poop."

* Thailand's Chiang Mai Zoo, which already sells multicolored paper made from the excrement of its two resident pandas, reported it resorted to artificial insemination to impregnate the female after failing to encourage the male to mate with her by putting him on a special diet, holding a mock wedding and showing him videos of pandas having sex. "He just didn't want to mate," said Sophon Dummui, who oversees the country's zoos. "He was looking at her as a friend."

Second-Amendment Follies Authorities in Wichita, Kan., reported that a 42-year-old man was shot in the hand while unloading trash when he accidentally hit the trigger of a discarded short-barreled pistol. Sedgwick County sheriff's Capt. Mike Oliver said the gun was loose in the trash and covered with mud.