Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "The fewer and the proud," April 23, 2005

Hard drive

On April 7, an Anchorage, Alaska, man drove his car up over a sidewalk and rammed it into a wall at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) building. Then he walked inside, paid $20, and renewed his driver's license. The impact dented the building's exterior metal siding, cracked an inside wall, and frightened DMV accounting workers sitting inside. "I saw the guy back up, get out of his car, and walk into the DMV like nothing happened," employee Michelle Steinman told reporters. Police believe the man was impaired on medication and charged him with driving under the influence.

Tricks are for kids

An anonymous website operator hopes web surfers will send him $50,000. The hook: He says if people don't send him that much money by June 30, then he'll kill and eat a cute rabbit named Toby that he found injured and nursed back to health. A man claiming to run savetoby.com told The Washington Post that he and a business partner had "received hundreds of death threats" and that their warning was not a joke. The site claims donations of about $25,000 so far, although PayPal, which ran the site's account until February, won't verify private account information.

Quality care

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Darrell and Nina Hallett of Bainbridge Island, Wash., spent $45,000 on a single procedure to help cure their dog Comet's lymphoma. The golden retriever needed a stem-cell transplant, and the couple reportedly hired a friend to track down Comet's 40 closest relatives for blood work. Then she flew to Florida to pick up a dog named Rico, the best match, and fly him back to Seattle to donate stem cells to his ailing relative. Now, months after the transplant, doctors say Comet's cancer is in remission.

Nasal congestion

The Hong Kong Medical Journal reports that a woman, one month after a 2003 hiking trip, went to a Hong Kong doctor because of recurring nosebleeds. The problem turned out to be a two-inch leech that had attached itself inside her left nostril, apparently when she swam or washed her face in a stream during the hike. Doctors then examined her fellow hikers and found that one of them also had a leech in his nose without realizing it. The article, published in this month's journal, discusses the need for anesthesia to remove live leeches from nasal passages: "Direct removal of a live leech might be difficult because of its powerful attachment to the mucosa and its slimy and mobile body."

Self-incrimination

Thomas P. Budnick is trying to get an assault conviction in Massachusetts thrown out on the grounds that his lawyer was incompetent. His new lawyer says the trial judge should have known that a man who had once claimed mining rights to Mars and threatened to sue NASA for trespassing was not stable enough to provide adequate counsel. Mr. Budnick should know: In the original trial, he had represented himself.

Protected turf

When an uninvited guest took up residence outside the U.S. Treasury Department in Washington, D.C., Treasury officials wasted no time calling in the Secret Service. But the agents' mission was not to evict the intruder; it was to set up metal guard rails to protect her. That's because the guest was a mother duck making a nest for her eggs. Treasury Secretary John Snow has already stopped by to visit the nesting bird and department officials are suggesting nicknames for the duck and her chicks, including "T-Bill," "Duck Cheney," and "Quacks Reform."

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