Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Education: Sick schools," Sept. 18, 2004

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

A stranger dropped in unannounced at the Forest Grove, Ore., home of Barbara Vreeland on Aug. 31. Ms. Vreeland was in her kitchen when a 4-pounds bag filled with the remains of a cremated Washington man fell from a small plane and crashed through her roof. The man had wanted his ashes scattered by plane over a cemetery where his relatives are buried, but the bag of remains slipped as the plane circled the cemetery, which is near the Vreeland home. "I feel for those people," said Ms. Vreeland after the cleanup. "But I think some of their relative is still in our attic."

Phone shield

Cell phones are often helpful in emergencies, but usually they have to be turned on. Not for Australian Michael Brown. Authorities say drug user Robert Troy Scanlon shot Mr. Brown with a crossbow because he mistakenly thought Mr. Brown was a police informant. Mr. Scanlon was right on target, hitting Mr. Brown in the chest, but the bolt became lodged in the phone in his shirt pocket instead of his chest. The Brisbane Supreme Court last week sentenced Mr. Scanlon to 12 years in prison for drug possession and for attempted murder in the December 2002 attack.

Coin machine

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Sanguan Pongsawat of Payao, Thailand, can spare more than a dime. During emergency surgery on Aug. 31, doctors found 4.2 pounds of loose change in the 37-year-old's stomach. Mr. Sanguan had come to the hospital complaining of excruciating pain, apparently after swallowing coins over an extended period of time. "He is in safe condition," said surgeon Sakchai Athawaiboon. "But he has to be in the hospital for some time in case of side effects because the metal coins had been in his body for a long time."

Got milk?

Turkish construction worker Iiker Yilmaz can squirt milk 9.2 feet-out of his left eye. Mr. Yilmaz broke the previous world record of 8.745 feet in a Sept. 1 event sponsored by a Turkish milk company. A tear-gland anomaly allows him and a handful of others worldwide to snort liquid from their noses into their eyelids. "I'm happy and proud that I can get Turkey in the record book, even if it's for milk squirting."

Curious count

One way to succeed in the Olympics is to have very few athletes qualify, at least according to Mohsen Mehralizadeh, head of Iran's Physical Education Organization. Mr. Mehralizadeh told the Etemad newspaper that Iran, which won six medals at the summer games in Athens, did better than the United States, which won 103 medals. The reason: Iran had a medal for every 6.2 athletes at the games while the United States had one for every 13.8 athletes. "Therefore of the 202 countries present in Athens, Iran was fourth," he said. The official medals table puts the United States first and Iran 29th.

What a dope

A German teenager apparently thought he could make a quick euro selling marijuana at a party that he and two friends crashed on Sept. 3. The only problem: It was a party for off-duty police officers to celebrate a colleague's birthday. Police immediately led the teenager, whom they did not identify, away from the party and arrested him. "Police have a private life, too," a police spokesman told the Reuters news service. "The poor guy picked the wrong customers that night."

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