Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Memorial Day 2005," May 28, 2005

Dog chase

Police in Rock Hill, S.C., are looking for the hottest dog in town. Bandits nabbed a 10-foot hot dog sign that has welcomed customers to the Ebenezer Grill for 18 months. Even though the hot dog is out on the lam, Rock Hill police Lt. Jerry Waldrop doesn't expect cops will have much trouble finding it: "It's tough to hide a 10-foot weenie." Said storeowner Lloyd Ardrey, "I just want my weenie back."

Old-tech versus high-tech

Dots and dashes may be a stodgy way to communicate in the information age. But according to the results of a recent competition, it's still faster than text messaging. Gordon Hill, a 93-year-old retired Australian telegraph operator, smoked a text messaging expert, 13-year-old Brittany Devlin, in a race to transmit a phrase. Miss Devlin even held a sort of home court advantage with the lingo to be transmitted. The phrase, picked at random from a popular magazine aimed at teenagers, read: "Hey, girlfriend, you can text all your best pals to tell them where you are going and what you are wearing." Mr. Hill tapped out the phrase in Morse code and 90 seconds later another telegraph operator announced he received the message. Eighteen seconds later, Miss Devlin's friend said she'd received the completed text message, though Miss Devlin apparently employed a sort of shorthand: "hey gf u can txt ur best pals 2 tel them wot u r doing, where ur going and wot u r wearing."

Expensive taste

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Economic-minded Germans cannot be happy. Beer prices are rising in Germany. Organizers of Munich's 172nd annual Oktoberfest said that for the first time ever, Germans will have to shell out more than seven euro for a liter of beer. It will take 7.06 euros ($8.92) to raise a stein at Oktoberfest. Mineral water, too, will be pricey: $7.10 per liter. Of course, beer experts would say compared qualitatively to a $6 American light beer at a U.S. baseball game, a $9 German lager is quite the bargain.

Lingering effect

Lightning may not strike twice in the same spot, but residents in Clear Lake, Iowa, must have wondered what foul thing followed a single lightning strike near an Alliant Energy plant. The problem: the lightning hit a device called an "odorizer," which mixes rotten-smelling chemicals into the natural gas system to help identify gas leaks. (While natural gas leaks are deadly, the gas itself is odorless.) Officials said the electricity surge "fried" the odorizer. But instead of knocking it offline, the lightning powered the device into high gear. So much rotten-egg smell was pumped into homes that residents were awakened by the smell after the lightning hit at 4 a.m. But an Alliant official said there was a benefit to the overactive odorizer: gas workers were able to discover numerous minor leaks in homes.

Spell check

Spelling mistakes could cost hundreds of high school seniors their diplomas. Of course, the mistake wasn't theirs. A series of typos leaves many graduating seniors in Lee County, Fla., walking across the stage but not walking out with diplomas. School officials blame Jostens, a Minneapolis-based company that produces diplomas. The faulty diplomas misspelled "chairman," various school officials' names, and, in certain cases, the graduate's name.

Fashionable truth?

Those who consider the Bible a stumbling block for the proud may have one more thing to think about: fashion. Nelson Bibles, an arm of Thomas Nelson Publishing, announced it will release fashionable Bibles in time for the summer shopping season that won't offend the fashion conscious Christian for whom black leather is too boring. The pocket-sized Bibles will come in colors ranging from "Flamingo Fuchsia" to "Gator Green" to "Sandcastle Sunset." "We also want our repertoire to reflect the current needs and desires of modern consumers who are searching for lightweight, portable, and contemporary style options," Nelson Vice President Wayne Hastings said in a statement.

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