Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Lavelle's wonderful life," Dec. 25, 2004

A surprise inside

Employees at Samsung's Secaucus, N.J., repair shop may be used to unhappy customers, but a DVD box this month from Jefferson City, Mo., was a first: It had a python inside. The three-foot python, named Paco, apparently slithered into the box and hid in the foam peanuts before Sheila Himmerick sent the DVD player to the shop, only to shock the workers who opened the box. Secaucus Town Animal Warden Kevin Kessler said no charges were filed in the incident: "Things like this do happen."

A big lump

Grace Radtke of Peebles, Ohio, knew something was wrong when she lost 60 pounds without dieting but felt something growing inside of her. "It didn't feel normal," she said. "It was like a long pregnancy." The growth turned out to be a noncancerous ovarian tumor that weighed 66 pounds when doctors removed it on Dec. 3. "I can't believe that thing was in me," said Ms. Radtke. "I'm just thankful I'm here."

Zero tolerance

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Ignorance of the law was no defense for 10-year-old Porsche Brown of Philadelphia. School officials were searching students' belongings for an item missing from a teacher's desk on Dec. 9 when they found a small pair of scissors in Porsche's backpack. Porsche hadn't threatened anyone with them and didn't realize that the school banned scissors as potential weapons. Still, police led Porsche away in handcuffs, and the school suspended her for two days. Police and school officials later apologized to Porsche, but the suspension stood.

Late reprieve

Ignorance of the law apparently is a defense for Charleston, W.Va., schoolteacher Susanna Robinson. Quick Takes reported last week ("Tough on crime") that Ms. Robinson faced a fine of up to $1,000 and a 90-day jail term for propping open the door to her classroom. An assistant fire marshal had said that the door had to be closed because it is a smoke partition, even though it isn't labeled as such. Facing a firestorm of protests, the marshal on Dec. 10 dropped the charges, without comment.

The cat's meow

Ruth Beeston didn't think much of a limestone carving that her husband, now deceased, had found in a quarry-except that it might be a good way to mark the burial place of her dead cat, Wrinkle. But a local historian discovered it, and art experts determined that it was a 1,000-year-old carving of the apostle Peter, "a rare survivor of English stone carving at its best," according to Alexander Cader of Sotheby's. Mrs. Beeston decided to put it up for auction on Dec. 10. The selling price for Wrinkle's former headstone: $383,000.

Seeing double

Ashlee Spinks of Indianapolis and Andrea Springer of Conyers, Ga., both had twin boys on Dec. 14 without the help of fertility drugs. That wouldn't be unusual, except that Ms. Spinks and Ms. Springer are twin sisters themselves. Both sisters had Caesarean sections, but both sets of boys had been due on Jan. 1. What is the likelihood of twin sisters being pregnant with twin boys with the same due date? One in a million, said high-risk pregnancy specialist Larry Matsumoto.

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