Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Miers doesn't fit the mold," Oct. 15, 2005

Deer in the tailights

Leon Holliman Jr. was on the lam since August when he skipped out of a Jacksonville, Fla., mental health facility. The North Carolina Highway Patrol found the 37-year-old man on Sept. 25, driving an ambulance with a six-point buck carcass stuffed in the back. Why was Mr. Holliman transporting a deer in an ambulance? He was admitted to a North Carolina hospital for a psychiatric evaluation to answer that question.

Slow boat to the motherland

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What Eddie the Eagle was to Olympic Skiing, 23-year-old Oliver Hicks has become to rowing. The British rower who set off from Atlantic Highlands, N.J., hoping to break the world record for an Atlantic crossing in a rowboat missed the mark-widely. He was aiming for 62 days, the current record, but finished in twice the time. But the Briton's 164-day cruise did earn him one sporting achievement: slowest-ever Atlantic crossing. He also set shore in southern England Sept. 30 as the first Briton to row the Atlantic and the youngest man ever to row an ocean solo. "It was just one of those things. If we had had better weather, we would have been quicker," said Mr. Hicks, 23, who has turned his sights on other feats. "Nobody has successfully rowed the southern ocean yet, so I could possibly head down to the Southern Hemisphere. I'd like to achieve a real first."

Stood up

After traveling thousands of miles for a blind date, Shuan Shuan discovered that her potential mate thought she wasn't his kind of panda. Zookeepers sent Shuan Shuan, an 18-year-old giant panda from a Mexico City zoo, to Tokyo more than a year ago to find love with Ling Ling, a 20-year-old male. But Shuan Shuan returned to North America Sept. 29, single and definitely not pregnant. For zookeepers, who mate pandas intercontinentally to expand the species, the failed romance dashed hopes. "They had contact through bars, so they could smell and touch one another but it wasn't the right moment. Ling Ling was scared of Shuan Shuan," Mexico City zoo director Rafael Tinajero told the Reuters news service. According to Mr. Tinajero, Ling Ling, the male, could not get comfortable around Shuan Shuan, who outweighed him by 66 pounds.

Owlmobile

While Honda and Toyota are developing hybrid car technology, rival Japanese automaker Nissan announced plans to produce a car with its own special feature: It's a breeze in parking lots. The car, called the Pivo, is shaped like a gigantic egg that can rotate the cockpit 360 degrees without moving the wheels. So a driver who pulls a car nose-in can swivel the cockpit and drive the car out of the space rather than backing out. "This is a cute car for people who have problems parking," said Nissan Motor Co. chief designer Masato Inoue, who did not say whether people desiring cute cars also need help parking. Nissan hopes the three-seat Pivo will create a stir at the Tokyo auto show in October, though the car is a few years from production.

Shore lore

By the title of the study, you'd never know it was child's play. In "Maximum angle of stability of a wet granular pile," physicists studied sandcastles to discover the right mix of water and sand to make sandcastles as stable as possible. Both the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy funded the research. The correct formula for making a solid sandcastle? Eight parts sand, one part water-but any kid knows that.

On ice

Proprietors of a new bar in the heart of London's West End have a very cool idea. The Absolut Ice Bar is made completely from ice-from the bar itself to glasses and even artwork. The frozen material comes from a river in northern Sweden, where the pureness of the water gives the ice a crystal clear sheen. To get inside the frozen walls, customers must pay a $22 cover, which buys them entrance and use of the bar's special thermal capes and gloves given to shield patrons from the minus 23 degrees Fahrenheit conditions inside. Owners say because of residual damage from body heat, the venue will be melted and reformed every six months.

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