Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Goodbye again," June 9, 2007

Udderly pampered

A Spanish farm just outside Madrid thinks it has found the secret to the perfect pint of milk. Owners of the Chirigota farm have instructed farm hands to treat the livestock like residents at a five-star hotel. The cows get waterbeds, sprinklers, and electronic brushes-but the biggest effect on milk quality, farm owners say, is the dulcet tones of Mozart blasted through loudspeakers at milking time. And not just any Mozart. Nicolas Sieber, head of marketing for the milking farm, says that since playing Mozart's concerto for flute and harp in D major, the cows' milk yield has increased from about 29 liters to somewhere between 30 and 35 liters every day. "It is relaxing music for them but at the same time it is dynamic, it keeps the cows active," Sieber said. "The trick is not to have music too relaxing."

Homeless scholar

An Orlando teen overcame a lot to graduate in May with a 3.7 GPA. Not only does Daniel Lazzatti have a learning disability, but he also has a living disability: He's homeless. The young man said he's been living in a shed behind a friend's house while attending Edgewater High School. After a local television station aired his story, many generous Orlando-area residents offered him cash, cars, and even a permanent place to stay. Lazzatti apparently refused it all, saying he's not looking for a handout. "If people really use this inspirational story in their everyday lives to make them work better, then I would feel a lot better," the teen told Orlando's Local 6.

Getting their goats

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Two news items from the Oakland Fire Department: First, Oakland police say a gunman with a small-caliber weapon shot dead 15 fire-fighting goats. Second, the Oakland fire department apparently employs fire-fighting goats to munch on undergrowth and weeds deemed to be fire hazards in the King Estates Recreation Area. It's not the first time Oakland's finest have had problems with their goats. Apparently some California residents have made a habit of taking pot shots at the grazing goats, but the shootings have steadily escalated recently from pellet-gun attacks to small-arms fire. "It just looks like for some reason, someone shot them," Dave Cronin of the Oakland Animal Shelter said. "It's disturbing behavior for a lot of reasons. This behavior is often times indicative of much more violent behavior to come."

Virgin birth

Let's hear it for the girls, at least the hammerhead shark girls. A joint Northern Ireland and U.S. research project found that female hammerhead sharks are able to fertilize their own eggs without the need for a male. Scientists had their curiosity piqued when a baby shark mysteriously showed up in the shark tank of a Nebraska zoo. And while the tank had three potential hammerhead mothers, there was no male in the tank-and none of the three mothers had been around a male in more than three years. Still skeptical, some researchers assumed the mother had simply stored away a male's sperm from before. But that odd theory had pitfalls too. Usually mothers can only store sperm for months. And a DNA study of the baby shark revealed it had no chromosomal contribution from a male parent. The findings put the shark on the list with some insects and other rare reptiles and fish as animals able to procreate asexually.

Head case

Michael Lusher apparently didn't know what hit him-until four hours later. Authorities say the 37-year-old man from Altizer, W.Va., was sleeping in his mobile home when a bullet struck him in the head. Lusher continued sleeping for four hours, when he awoke to notice blood coming from his head. Cpl. R.H. McQuaid of the Cabell County Sheriff's Department told the Associated Press that traveling through two walls slowed the bullet before it hit Lusher: "We're just glad he didn't suffer any life-threatening injuries with a head wound."


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