Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Out from the shadows," Dec. 22, 2007

Crash landing

Turkey day came a little late for Chuck Ritter of Traverse City, Mich. While Ritter was in his living room on Dec. 8, a 25-pound turkey reportedly flew through the bedroom window of his third-story apartment. Ritter, 83, and a maintenance worker tried to corral the flummoxed bird for 30 minutes before Ritter finally cornered it and grabbed its neck. Ritter said he would give the now-dead turkey to a needy family.

Order from below

To solve a 20-year-old property dispute, an Indian judge is reaching out to a pair of Hindu gods. After having legal, mailed summons returned to him, Judge Sunil Kumar Singh put advertisements in local newspapers ordering the two Hindu deities-Ram and Hanuman- to appear in court personally to help determine ownership of a 1.4-acre plot in the eastern state of Jharkhand where temples to the two gods are located. Community leaders insist the land belongs directly to the two popular gods, but a temple priest claims the land belongs to him. Should the gods not make the hearing, the court will likely grant the land to the priest.

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In a move that would have made TV's MacGyver proud, an off-duty paramedic in Escanaba, Mich., used only household items to help deliver a baby. When Shannon Mata went into labor prematurely on Dec. 5 and called emergency workers for help, off-duty paramedic Edwin LaCosse happened to hear the dispatch from an operator and arrived first on the scene as the baby girl was being born. Thinking quickly, LaCosse rummaged around the house to find a turkey baster to suction the newborn's nose and mouth. He used a shoelace to tie the umbilical cord

Seller beware

When police in Minocqua, Wis., saw crowds surrounding a local Shell station after dark on Dec. 3, they phoned station manager Andrea Reuland. When she arrived on the scene, she learned that gas was selling for 33 cents per gallon and shut down the tanks. Reuland explained later that when the last station employee left for the evening, the employee was supposed to drop the price of gasoline one cent for overnight credit card sales. But instead of entering $3.299 into the computer, the employee entered $.329. Once customers discovered the cheap gas, they phoned friends and family members. In under two hours, 42 people used the mistake to take 586 gallons of the cheap gas from the rural Shell station.

Feeling guilty

About 15 years after the crime spree, some authority finally caught up with a Turkish thief: his conscience. In an anonymous letter to police in Ankara, the thief expressed regret for pilfering four car stereos in 1992 and enclosed nearly $600 to be split among the victims. Using the details provided by the thief, police tracked down and paid off three victims. Unable to find the fourth, police gave the money to a children's charity.

The new math

It was a high honor for Montpelier High School in Vermont when the Dec. 1 issue of U.S. News & World Report ranked it among the top five schools in the nation. But amid a swelling of community pride, school officials realized that something didn't add up. Standard & Poor's, in analyzing data for the magazine, had miscalculated the school's test scores and inflated its ranking by several hundred spots. School officials promptly corrected the grader, contrite U.S. News editor Brian Kelly. "It's particularly embarrassing that we're in the business of judging people based on their math scores, and we got our math wrong," Kelly told the Associated Press.

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