Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Building a city," March 24, 2007

Better late

Good way to impress the boss: Plan ahead and have his friends at the airport on time. Good way not to impress the boss: Have a late start and phone in a bomb threat to the airport to force delays. A Russian police officer will spend months in prison after a court found him guilty of ordering someone to call in a bomb threat to a Russian airport. He wanted to prevent his boss' friends from being stranded for being late. Witnesses say the parties involved had been drinking alcohol.

Smoke signal

One Swede is set to test exactly how anti-smoking Europe's courts are willing to be. A man in Akarp, Sweden, filed a lawsuit against his neighbor for smoking outside. On her own property. The Swede alleges in the suit that even though the neighbor lights up in a corner farthest away from his property, the smoke still wafts into his nostrils and through his open windows. For this, the man wants a court to award him about $2,000 for the prior smoking and an extra $280 for each future offense.

A house divided

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Do not try this at home: A German man feels like he got his due prior to an ugly divorce when he split up the couple's vacation house. Literally. The 43-year-old mason measured the building and then cut the home in half with a chainsaw. Once split, the man loaded his side onto a forklift and drove it to his brother's property.

Problem pet

Agents for the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife had to draw the line somewhere, and a 6-foot-4 17-year-old seemed like a natural place to start. Especially when the teenager is actually an alligator. Officials for the state forced one Vermont home to give up its 125-pound pet gator because, as an expert noted, gigantic reptiles aren't the kind of things people need to keep in their basement. "They just don't warm up to people. They don't ever become friendly. They don't make good pets," Michael Ralbovsky of Rainforest Reptiles of Boston said after helping officials remove the cold-blooded beast.

Humble pi

On March 14 at 1:59 p.m., people around the country paused to celebrate a very special relationship-that between a circle's circumference and its diameter, aka pi, aka approximately 3.14159. In San Francisco, pi fans gathered at the Exploratorium to talk about their beloved number and eat pi-themed foods (such as pie). Pi enthusiasts include those who write pi poems, create pi chants, and memorize pi to the Thousands of digits. Marc Umile has recited pi to 12,887 digits, reportedly a U.S. record, and set the digits to music, inviting the ridicule of friends. "If you do something of this magnitude," he told the Associated Press, "keep it a secret."

Rabbit trail

Missouri water plant employee Mitch Walter's day only started getting interesting when a rabbit hopped into his golf cart as he drove between water facilities in Cape Girardeau. That's because the rabbit was soon followed by a small bobcat looking to make a meal of the rabbit. But the rabbit quickly abandoned the cart, leaving Walter alone with the wild 25-pound attack cat. "The cat went from a sleek predator after fast food to a ball of fur trying to jump through the windshield of the golf cart," said Walter, who was mostly unharmed, but still needed rabies shots.

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