Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Effective compassion," Sept. 2, 2006

Criminalizing the victim

A Brighton, Mass., man faces a city citation after town officials decided he didn't make his home's outdoor staircase sturdy enough for a burglar who was attempting to break in. City officials cited the homeowner, saying his wrought-iron spiral staircase was dangerous. The citation stemmed from an incident earlier in August when an apparent burglar fell to his death from the second-story staircase as he tried to kick in a door.

Acting like vultures

Hundreds of vultures swirling around a popular Peruvian tourist city have come close to shutting down the city's airport. The birds seem to be attracted by Iquitos' massive trash dump near the city's airport. With 400,000 residents living in the Amazon jungle town, Iquitos is one of the largest cities without any road accessibility, exacerbating a vulture problem that has shut down the airport nearly eight hours a day.

Jail's great

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When prison officials at Josefstadt in the Austrian capital of Vienna spotted Detlef Federsohn on the rooftop of a cellblock, they thought they had a jailbreak. Actually, Federsohn was attempting something rarer: a break-in. The 23-year-old, who had just finished a two-year sentence for theft, says he missed life on the inside. "Life is so much easier on the inside. They feed you, do your washing and let you watch TV, which I can tell you is a lot more than my [mother] does," Federsohn said. "So I thought if I could sneak back in I would blend in with the others and the [guards] wouldn't notice."

No s'mores for me

What may have been one woman's dream turned into one man's nightmare. Darmin Garcia, 21, accidentally slipped and fell into a vat of molten chocolate while he worked at a food-processing factory in Kenosha, Wis. Rescuers worked to free the man from the 110-degree chocolate, but the melted sweetness proved too thick. "It was in my hair, in my ears, my mouth, everywhere," Garcia said. "I felt like I weighed 900 pounds. I couldn't move." Rescuers finally liberated Garcia after adding some cocoa butter to the mix, thinning out the chocolate.

Marathon man

Sam Thompson might want to get off his feet during September. He spent all of July and most of August running. The 25-year-old Mississippi native completed his 51st marathon in a 50-day span of time on Aug. 19. The running enthusiast notched a 26.2-mile marathon in every state and even in the District of Columbia-where he ran two marathons in a day. The runner paced out his final marathon in Bay St. Louis, Miss., in just under three and a half hours. During his 1,336-mile journey, his girlfriend, a dietician, said he went through 11 pairs of running shoes but did not lose a pound.

Cheers

Is this a championship to toast? A survey conducted by The Princeton Review found UT-Austin ranks as the nation's best party school-an inauspicious title awarded to the school with the most alcohol and marijuana use. UT spokesman Don Hale delivered a savvy public-relations explanation: "I know there were a lot of good parties here after we won the national football championship, and I'm going to guess that a lot of the kids who filled out the survey remembered those parties." Utah's Brigham Young University placed first in Princeton Review's "stone cold sober" category for the ninth straight year.

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