Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "All heart," July 14, 2007

Staying alive

An elderly Inuit man from far northern Canada may have just accidentally proved he's the real Survivorman. On June 1, Enoki Kanuk, an 81-year-old elder and hunter from the Inuit community in Igloolik, Nunavut, embarked alone on a caribou hunting expedition more than 50 miles north of his home. When he didn't return five days later as promised, Inuit leaders sent search parties for the old man. Most feared for the worst. But nearly a month later, a search plane spotted Kanuk as he waited next to his tent for help. "It's been a month, and for an elder to survive that long all alone . . . that's how Inuit survived without any assistance from [the] outside world," said Igloolik mayor Paul Quassa, noting that Kunuk's snowmobile was rendered useless by the melting snow and ice. Quassa didn't detail how Kanuk survived, but noted the old man was well known both for hunting and for packing extra supplies.

Illegal invasion

Sure, a 15-mile stretch of U.S.-built border fence near Columbus, N.M., may keep illegal immigrants from passing into the United States in that area. There's just one problem: A 1.5-mile section of the fence is built on Mexican soil. When the Mexican government learned of the territorial infringement it fired off a letter to Washington in an attempt to recover its land. The U.S. government might have to spend $3 million to tear down the wayward fence and rebuild it on American soil.

Desperately seeking iPhones

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Mark Rebillet spent 12 hours in line outside a cell-phone store in Dallas on June 29 waiting for doors to open so he could purchase Apple's new iPhone-but it was the last 15 minutes that were most valuable. A woman with $16,000 in cash strolled up to Rebillet with an offer to buy his spot in the front of the line. After a short negotiation Rebillet settled for $800, and the woman declared her intention to buy all the $500--$600 phones in the store for resale on eBay-but store rules limiting phones to one per customer ruined her plans. Meanwhile, Rebillet took his cash and gave it to a friend who was just hanging out with him in line but hadn't planned on buying an iPhone.

A pair of dopes

A New York father-son duo was arrested for doping horses with cobra snake venom, which, curiously enough, serves as a performance enhancer for racehorses. William and Keith Barrack both admitted to injecting horses with the venom at the Saratoga Raceway in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in 2006 and pleaded guilty to one felony count each. The cobra venom works as a painkiller for the equines, allowing them to run harder, but the practice is exceptionally dangerous: With the powerful painkillers in its system, a horse may persist through a leg injury and have severe, even fatal, complications.

It's the thought that counts

What can a small town do after decades of cynicism have helped erode its can-do mojo? The residents of Oelwein, Iowa, decided to bury the past-literally. Town leaders pulled off a mock funeral for negative thoughts about their town of about 6,700. The June 29 "Bury the Doom and Gloom" ceremony featured a Louisiana-style jazz funeral march with a horse-drawn hearse and a casket containing negative sentiments about Oelwein written on placards. Oelwein hit tough times in the 1980s when the railroad-the town's economic engine-left town. But some say complaints about the railroad are growing stale. "When every citizen of Oelwein spends as much time doing good things for the community as they do talking about it, we will be much further ahead," said restaurateur Mike Leo, who helped organize the event.

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