Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "Bleeding economy," Oct. 18, 2008

Green and dirty

If environmentalists get their way in Vancouver, Wash., driveway car washes may soon become illegal. According to The Oregonian, state officials in Washington have asked officials in Clarke County (directly across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore.) to consider how they might eliminate contaminants-including soap-from entering the public water system. County officials have protested the edict from the state's Department of Ecology, and Vancouver's Public Works Director Brian Carlson indicated a number of cities might file a lawsuit unless the state relents. "We're not going to be car-washing bureaucrats run amok," Carlson said. "We have higher priorities than that."

Caught on camera

While James Jeppe never saw it coming, his victim did. Bradley Bosworth and his father installed security cameras in their 2008 Hummer H2 after the Southlake, Texas, family had three previous Hummers keyed. The security cameras paid off when they captured Jeppe using a car key to scratch X's into the side panels of the luxury SUV on Sept. 5 in the parking lot of Bosworth's Dallas-area high school. Days later, police released the footage to local television stations, which replayed a shorts-and-polo-wearing Jeppe calmly walking up to the Hummer and making three quick X marks on the side and rear panels. In a statement to police, Jeppe explained why he felt the need to key the high-schooler's Hummer. "They have a big carbon footprint and they use four times as much gas as the rest of us do, and I don't think it's fair," said the Greenpeace and Sierra Club member. Jeppe drives a 1998 BMW four-door sedan.

Never too old

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Perhaps inspired by stories of the elderly warding off home invaders, scores of elderly citizens in Mesa, Ariz., have flocked to a local police academy course especially designed for seniors. The free course gives Mesa seniors tips in preventing crime and identity theft, and also something fun to do. Mesa resident Ruby Dayton, 93, said she now has a reason to carry a cane after attending classes. "The only reason I carry my cane is I know how to hit you in the knee, honey," she said.

Drinking game

Henry Earl finally did it. This time, he might actually wish he hadn't. The Lexington, Ky., man racked up his 1,000th arrest for public intoxication since 1992 on Aug. 23. But this time, the judge gave Earl a fitting sentence to commemorate his inauspicious anniversary. "For your anniversary we'll give you a thousand days," Judge Gary Payne told Earl. In all, Earl has spent over 4,100 days in jail-averaging just two days free before being arrested again on public intoxication charges.

Idleness and folly

Nanny State residents in the United Kingdom may soon have to pay a $37 fine for leaving their engines running while stuck in traffic. British officials announced they will roll out phase one of the project aimed at curbing carbon emissions in one West Sussex city by January and could soon expand the program nationwide if denizens don't put up much fight. Officials say wardens will target folks who leave engines on at railroad crossings and in heavy traffic jams. But the AA, a British auto insurer, notes that unless a vehicle can remain off for more than a minute, the gas required to start the car would exceed the amount needed to idle.

A rose by any other name

Persona non grata has turned to vinum non gratum in the San Francisco wine scene. The wine-buying elite in the liberal Bay Area have projected their annoyance with Republican Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as vice presidential running mate onto a wine that bears a similar name to the Alaska governor. According to one local wine merchant, sales of the formerly popular Palin Syrah wine, a Chilean organic red vino, have plummeted since McCain's announcement. "Before McCain made his announcement it was selling very well, because it's an affordable wine and it's from South America," said Celine Guillou, co-owner of the Yield Wine Bar in San Francisco. "Then he made his announcement and we hear people making comments constantly about the wine." Other areas of the nation have different tastes, however. Sales of the boutique wine have spiked in conservative Houston and even in staunchly Democratic New York City.

Wakeup call

Greek police reported last week that two airplanes had to delay landing for 40 minutes and instead circled over the Aegean Sea. The reason: An air traffic controller had overslept, and the pilots' repeated tower calls for directions went unanswered. The planes finally were able to land safely at their destination on the island of Lesbos. Police said the controller, whom they did not name, would face a suspension of a few days.

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