Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "'Darkest moment'," April 28, 2007

Give crustaceans a chance

Freedom didn't come cheaply for approximately 300 lobsters held for distribution in tanks at the New Meadows Lobster Pound in Maine. A group of young environmentalists arrived at New Meadows and demanded the company give the lobsters a chance at freedom. In this case, cash talked: After paying nearly $3,400 in cash, the environmentalists gathered up their 300 lobsters and told New Meadows owner Pete McAleney they planned to release them back into the ocean. "We told them they're going to get caught again and they said, 'That's OK. We just want them to have a chance before they get caught again,'" McAleney said. "I don't know if they go around and free chickens and cows or what."

Police thyself

Criticize Brown County (Wis.) Sheriff Dennis Kocken if you must for poor driving, but credit the man for being honest. A few weeks after the sheriff accidentally rear-ended a vehicle that slowed to turn while Kocken tried to determine if it was speeding, the sheriff wrote himself a ticket for an unsafe lane change that led to the incident. "As sheriff, I'm held to the highest standard in law enforcement. How can I hold officers accountable if I don't hold myself accountable?" he said, noting the incident kept bothering him as time passed. "I'm satisfied I'm doing the right thing."

Gray ace

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Neither Elsie McLean nor her playing partners saw where the 102-year-old's tee shot went on the par-three fourth hole at Bidwell Park in Chico, Calif. It turns out the ball came to rest in one of the unlikeliest places for a 102-year-old golfer's first shot: in the cup. McLean's hole-in-one not only helped her scorecard, but also set a record for oldest person to notch an ace on a regulation course. "For an old lady," she said, "I still hit the ball pretty good."

Kevlar man

At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, student athlete Cameron Kelly was walking to track and field practice at Chicago's De La Salle Institute when he heard a gunshot. He also felt something in his chest, like somebody punched him, but he thought nothing of it. A half hour later after walking some 60 blocks, the 17-year-old took off his school jacket in the locker room, where a teammate saw that the shot putter's shirt was soaked in blood. "He's hard as a rock,' boasted his father to the Chicago Sun-Times at the hospital where Kelly was treated for the injury. "The fact that he was calm, cool, and collected comes from discipline. From the school and his parents." Kelly has his own explanation: "I just dealt with it. I wanted to go to practice."

Security with a smile

A new strategy by Seattle-area bankers seems to be thwarting local bank robbers. And it has nothing to do with increased security or video cameras. Instead, banks in the area seem to be stopping thieves with kindness. For years, tellers have been trained to take a nonconfrontational approach with suspected bank robbers (think dark sunglasses and hoodies). But an FBI agent working in conjunction with bank officials worked to develop a strategy some call "customer service on steroids." When a suspicious man entered Ballard Bank wearing a hat, sunglasses, and gardening gloves, the bank manager quickly approached and greeted him, inviting him to take off his hat and sunglasses. The suspicious man left with only a roll of quarters and though the bank manager can't say for sure whether they had prevented a robbery, area bankers are happy that the number of bank robberies has dipped significantly since the program's introduction.

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