Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Oddball occurences

Issue: "On the road again," May 9, 2009

Wind damage

Two golfers at an East Fishkill, N.Y., country club were apparently enjoying a leisurely game when they suddenly found themselves trapped under their golf cart. Witnesses told police that the two men had been in the path of a small funnel cloud, or a "dust devil," that flipped their cart over. "What we had was a weird little wind event," Police Sgt. Kevin Keefe told the Associated Press. Once free, the two men refused treatment for abrasions and resumed their game.

Hours apart

After 67 years of marriage, death did part Lyle and Anita Yingling-but not for very long. Early on April 11 Anita Yingling, 93, died in her sleep at the Yinglings' family home in Troy, Kan. Six hours later, Lyle, 95, died. The couple reportedly had been heavily involved in their local church and community, and their April 15 funeral drew a standing-room-only crowd. They were married in August 1941 after four years of dating each other. "She always said she didn't think he'd ever ask her," son Jason told the St. Joseph News-Press.

Stamped out

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Perhaps he should have sent a friend to buy stamps. Pennsylvania 47-year-old Alfonso Rizzuto was arrested by police after a Kingston, Pa., post office employee noticed that Rizzuto's face matched a mug shot on the post office's wanted poster. The postal worker called the cops who arrested the Scranton, Pa., man. Rizzuto was wanted by Scranton police on forgery, theft, and illegal use of a credit card.

Kangaroo captains

In Australia's capital city, a glut of the nation's most identifiable creatures could signal the beginning of kangaroo death squads. Failing to control the population of the furry marsupials in Canberra with vasectomies or oral contraceptives, city leaders are proposing to cull the population through euthanasia. Nearly 20 percent of Canberra residents report they've collided with a kangaroo on the city's roadways. But don't tell that to local Australians. Though a kangaroo bounding across lawns and even the Parliament House rooftop is a ubiquitous sight in the city, more than 80 percent of Canberra residents say the wild marsupials should keep their place in the city.

Smell test

At least Schaumburg, Ill., residents no longer have to worry about getting a whiff of the funk while visiting the public library. Library officials just added "offensive bodily odors" to its banned list, accompanying prohibitions on loud talking and uncovered beverages. Schaumburg Township District Library Director Stephanie Sarnoff admitted the ban came after complaints about smelly homeless patrons, but also indicated the prohibition could just as easily target old ladies who wear too much perfume.

Off-target prayers

Views from newly built high-rise apartment buildings in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, have some Muslims worried about the efficacy of their prayers. Residents in the towers became worried when they saw the markings directing congregants to pray toward the Kaaba in Mecca were misaligned. Muslim worshippers are supposed to pray toward the Kaaba-the mecca of Mecca. The problem, according to the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, could have affected roughly 200 mosques in the city.

Survival instinct

It didn't take long for Sophie the house dog to make the transition to island dog. And it's a good thing too: After falling overboard in choppy seas off the coast of Australia, Sophie wouldn't see her owners for about four months. Jan Griffith and her family assumed Sophie drowned when she wound up in the drink in November. But the resourceful Australian cattle dog managed to swim nearly six miles to the shores of St. Bees Island. There, the one-time house pet lived by hunting feral goats until being discovered by park rangers. On a whim, Griffith said she contacted rangers to see if the stray dog they found was her Sophie. When Griffith got near the dog, there was no doubt: "We called the dog and she started whimpering and banging the cage and they let her out and she just about flattened us," she said. "She wriggled around like a mad thing."

High calling

If this is the new standard, schools in the United Kingdom may be in trouble. After being caught with crack cocaine at a nightclub in 2007, Michael Swann, a 27-year-old schoolteacher in Rotherham, has escaped with a warning from local police and a simple reprimand from Britain's professional ethics board for teachers. But he kept his job. In a report this April, the U.K.'s General Teaching Council praised Swann as an "excellent" role model for children-his crack bust notwithstanding.

Burning issue

If 82-year-old Donald Harmon wants to heat his Seattle home, he'll have to rethink his homemade wood fire heating system, according to a Washington environmental agency. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency tagged the retired engineer with an $850 fine after they noticed smoke from a wood fire wafting from his chimney one January morning. Harmon said he was just trying to break the chill in his kitchen with his intricate heating system designed to save money by burning things like wood pallets. But the morning Harmon chose to burn also happened to coincide with a region-wide burn ban imposed by the agency to reduce air pollution. Harmon told the Seattle Times it would take him a year to pay the fine from what is left over from his Social Security check. But Mario Pedroza, an agency inspector, told the newspaper that Harmon gets to be the "poster child" for noncompliance with environmental regulations. Harmon fired back: "I'll be the poster child-for nonpayment."

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