Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "'To stay is to be killed'," Nov. 29, 2008

Great escape

If the church can be built brick by brick, it can be stolen that way too.

According to officials in the Russian Orthodox church, a 200-year-old church building has completely vanished, apparently stolen one piece at a time. Clergymen went to visit the abandoned church building in Komarovo, Russia, after officials began to discuss reopening the 1809 building for services. Figuring the brick heist must have occurred sometime in October, church officials reported to police that all that remained was the 200-year-old building's foundation and a few wall sections.

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It could be the new big thing in Florida: Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. But don't expect a mention of it in the travel brochures. Researchers at the University of Florida sent out warnings to pest control businesses and homeowners to be on the lookout for the roach among other pesky insects. The scientists say reptile owners could be to blame. Compared to the traditional, but smelly and loud, cricket diet, many reptile owners have turned to purchasing cockroaches on the internet for their pets. But entomologist Phil Koehler warned that once loose, new cockroaches, including the Madagascar (up to five inches long) would thrive in Florida's climate.

Tempest in a tin pot

Good thing he didn't put it on eBay with a "Buy it Now" option. Otherwise, one anonymous eBay seller might have missed out on the surprise sale of a lifetime. EBay member "123ecklin" listed a terribly beat-up 1963 Pontiac with no engine originally for just $500. The price didn't stay that low for long. Once treasure hunters on the online auction site discovered the slightly rusted and heavily dinged muscle car carcass was actually a 1963 Pontiac LeMans Tempest Super Duty Coupe, one of seven ever made, bidding on the historic drag-racing vehicle skyrocketed. At close, the car fetched $226,521. The ultra-rare Tempest was said to be one of the fastest dragsters of its era. In the question-and-answer section of the eBay listing, the seller admitted that he had considered simply scrapping his inherited Pontiac.

Think before you speak

Calling the cops wasn't Debra Hatton's smartest move. The woman phoned the authorities to report a burglary at her Upper Darby, Pa., home. But when police arrived, Hatton and her husband Edward Hatton were the ones who wound up in the slammer. Once inside the home, police discovered the couple had been growing marijuana and had collected a number of high--powered automatic weapons to protect their narcotics operation. "[We] recovered this AK47 with a clip that was fully loaded containing 30 rounds of ammunition," Upper Darby Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood told the local CBS affiliate. Along the way, police also ran across a bizarre collection of police badges along with Nazi memorabilia. Considering the Hattons called police to their house, "I guess you have to put them in the realm of some of the world's dumbest criminals," said Chitwood.

Psychic, can you spare a divination?

It doesn't take a psychic to know that times are hard. That is, unless you're a psychic. According to a Columbia University business professor, many Americans are taking whatever disposable income they have to consult self-styled mediums and psychics to divine what their financial future holds. "People want the illusion of control," Columbia professor and psychic industry researcher Gita Johar told Wired.com.

According to one psychic interviewed by Wired.com whose clients inundated her with messages after the Dow's sharp 770-point drop on Sept. 30, customers want to know not what stocks will tank, but whether they will be able to keep their homes and their jobs.

Line 'er up

Fairly soon, Beatrice Muller will have to find a new home. For her, that means a new luxury ocean liner. For the past eight years, Muller has lived aboard the Queen Elizabeth 2 as the vessel's only permanent resident.

Muller, 89, began traveling aboard with her husband in 1995. And shortly after her husband died aboard in 1999, she sold her New Jersey home and moved onto the vessel for good, forking over close to $5,000 per month as rent. But when the soon-to-be-decommissioned QE2 makes its final port call in Dubai in December, Muller will be forced to look for another floating retirement home: "I'll keep on staying at sea, I don't want to go back to housekeeping," she told the BBC.

Partied out

A spat between a Swedish school and parents got so ugly the Swedish Parliament got involved. The imbroglio began last May when an 8-year-old schoolboy handed out birthday party invitations to all but two of his classmates. The boy's father explained that one of the uninvited boys hadn't invited his child to his own party. The other uninvited boy had bullied his son, said the father. School officials didn't like the snub, however. A teacher confiscated the invitations because the two boys weren't included.

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