Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Five-man legacy," Jan. 28, 2006

Kiss of death

Some world records just aren't worth it. Case in point: One Malaysian is planning to set a world record by kissing a venomous snake 50 times in 10 minutes. At a press conference, Shahimi Abdul Hamid, a snake charmer of some local renown, announced his plans, then gave reporters a sneak preview by smooching a 10-foot King Cobra 21 times. Ripley's Believe It or Not will film his stunt on March 11.

Survival

An 88-year-old Washington woman has a lot of fight in her yet. Mary Lillian Anderson misjudged a turn on a Vancouver, Wash., roadway and veered her 1997 Cadillac Seville into a ditch hidden from view along Interstate 5. She remained trapped in her car for six days until a delivery truck driver spied her cranberry-colored sedan from his high perch. How did Ms. Anderson survive that long? Her son reported that the elderly woman kept herself hydrated by soaking up condensation from the windshield and sucking it from a towel. He said she passed the time by counting to 500 and back-and praying.

Sick plan

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Police say one Lansing, Mich., man had more than vindication in mind when he showed up in court to contest a traffic ticket. During the Dec. 21 appearance, John Ridgeway insisted on shaking hands with the prosecutor, police officer, and courtroom bailiff. All three officials got sick within an hour and two had to be hospitalized with nausea, headaches, and numbness. Mr. Ridgeway, 41, doesn't deny he poured something on his hands, but he claimed it was olive oil. He could face up to six years in prison if convicted of the assault charges.

Show-Me diversity

Schoolboys in Missouri can't wear skirts, but what about kilts? Jackson, Mo., school superintendent Ron Anderson overruled school officials who forced one Jackson Senior High student to change from his kilt to trousers before a school dance last November. After months of debate, Mr. Anderson decided the school was wrong to force the student, who is of Scottish heritage, to change out of traditional garb. Mr. Anderson apologized for the school, but only after a Scottish heritage group protested with a 10,000-signature petition.

Short-sheeting

Coming soon to a prison near you: hot-bunking. Actually, that may only be true if you live in Idaho, and only if a top Idaho lawmaker has his way. State Sen. Robert Geddes thinks sharing prison bunks may be a good way to alleviate problems posed by the growth in the prison population. Under the Geddes plan, prisoners would share beds and sleep in shifts-similar to methods used by the United States armed forces. But the director of prisons in the Gem State says bed sharing would actually create more problems. "It would actually double the population at a facility," Tom Beauclair said. "I don't have the staff to handle it. If you have an emergency, where do you put people?"

Artificial legs

One Frenchman will be standing tall when he returns from India. The unidentified man traveled to India to undergo a risky and controversial operation to increase his height. Doctors expect the 54-year-old man to add nearly 3 inches to his 5-foot-4 frame at a cost of nearly $7,000. Doctors cut gaps into the man's leg bones and buttressed them with metal frames. In the next several months, doctors believe new bone growth will fill in the gaps, giving the man longer, cosmetically altered legs.

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