Dispatches > Quick Takes
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Quick Takes

Oddball occurrences

Issue: "The Purge," Sept. 12, 2009

Candy Cane Forest

Who would have thought that a street with eight hairpin turns and a 27 degree decline would ever be celebrated? Known by locals in San Francisco as "the crookedest street in the world," one famous stretch of Lombard Street in the city's Russian Hill neighborhood was shut down on Aug. 19 for a special event: its 60th anniversary. Local groups and officials with the University of California-San Francisco Children's Hospital converted one block of Lombard into a life-sized version of the popular children's board game Candy Land. The block was covered in colored tiles and costumed adults paraded as King Kandy, Princess Lolly, and Princess Frostine. Kids from the hospital and the neighborhood got to play the game. The reward for finishing the course? Candy, of course.

All tied up

By the time Whitman County sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene, there wasn't much left to do. Dispatched to a LaCrosse, Wash., home, they found 25-year-old Sean Lee all tied up outside and ready for arrest. Police say Lee took advantage of 69-year-old Larry Garrett, who had invited Lee inside to prepare him a meal after hearing the young man's sob story about needing gas money. And though Garrett was prepared to give him some cash, Lee stole Garrett's wallet and tried to escape out the front door. That's where he ran into Garrett's brother, who slowed him down long enough for the 69-year-old and other friends inside the house to tackle and tie up Lee. "I find it a bit refreshing when our criminals are already under arrest and cuffed up for us when we arrive," Deputy Keith Cooper told the Spokesman-Review.

A yawn too far

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Next time, Clifton Williams might want to cover his mouth. Williams, a 33-year-old Illinois man, was tagged with a six-month jail term for contempt of court spawned by a yawn. Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak issued the contempt charge as he was handing down a two-year prison sentence on Williams' cousin on a felony drug charge on July 23. Williams stretched out and yawned loudly, interrupting the judge, who took it as a sarcastic gesture designed to disrupt the proceedings.

Escaping the net

Despite newspapers struggling to make money across the United States, a group of Amish newspapermen have discovered the secret to a profitable paper: a clientele that shuns the internet. The newspaper is called The Budget, and though it's distributed to Amish communities nationally, it's published from the bustling Amish community in Sugarcreek, Ohio. In 2006, editors at The Budget proposed moving much of the newspaper's content to the internet. But streams of angry letters from internet-shunning Amish threatening a boycott have all but killed that idea. That may give The Budget, with its 20,000 subscribers at $42 apiece, a rock solid future. After all, if the internet is killing newspapers, wouldn't you want to print the paper whose audience shuns technology?

Plane scarey

Some southbound drivers on U.S. Highway 101 near Santa Barbara, Calif., got a good scare on Aug. 23, and now they have a good story to tell. As traffic sped along on the freeway at about 10:30 a.m., a 1965 Piper PA-24 Comanche airplane flying overhead ran out of fuel, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing-into oncoming traffic. Nobody was seriously injured as the plane collided with three vehicles.

Message carriers

It may sound fishy to Western ears, but tattooed fish are reportedly a hot seller in the southwest China city of Chengdu. The AFP news service reports that pet shops in Chengdu use lasers to tattoo "fortune fish" with patterns and characters that many Chinese consider lucky. The price for a set of four fish emblazoned with the characters for "Good Fortune," "Luck," "Long Life," and "Happiness"? About $18.

A drink to good health

Another excuse to drink beer-in moderation: According to Spanish researchers in the scientific journal Nutrition, women who drink moderately have better bone density than non­drinkers. The experts were quick to point out it's probably not the alcohol in the beer that's helping women stave off osteoporosis but rather all the other ingredients that comprise the drink. But lest boozers take solace, the scientists also say more than three beers a day can lead to a decrease in bone strength. Summary: One beer good, 10 beers bad.

Lady killers

The gardeners might be happy about what it means for the aphids. But lots of Britons will be bugged by the invasion of tens of millions of ladybugs-the strongest showing for the predatory beetle since 1976. Experts say the invasion can be traced to an unusually warm spring and early summer that gave rise to a huge population of aphids, the ladybug's favorite meal. From there, it was only a matter of time before England's ladybug population swelled. How bad is it? One report from Chard, Somerset, claimed that an estimated 10 million red-and-black-spotted bugs infested a local farm, covering its entire 20 acres.

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