Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Oddball occurences

Issue: "Pro-baby," Jan. 30, 2010

Healthy details

A controversial plan by a Manchester, U.K., health commission for trimming down obese students is facing loud protests from local parents. The Greater Manchester Health Commission has proposed removing parking spaces near local schools in order to prevent parents from dropping off children close to a school's front door, thus forcing students to walk a longer distance to get to school. Months ago, the same health commission suggested local restaurants switch to salt shakers with fewer holes in order to promote healthier eating.

Five-star soup kitchen

Thanks to the generous donation of an anonymous food snob in New York City, some of Gotham's homeless have been eating very well. City Harvest, a charity that takes in food donations from the city's restaurants, received a 550-gram tin of expensive caviar from one of its donors. City Harvest then happily passed on the tin of Petrossian Paris malossol caviar, valued at $1,100, to an unusual soup kitchen named Broadway Community Inc., whose mission is to provide homeless clients with upscale seven-course meals. And so on Dec. 30, chef Michael Ennes of the upscale soup kitchen served amuse-bouches of cornmeal pancakes topped with a small portion of the expensive caviar.

Huskers for a day

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On the field in the Holiday Bowl, the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team dominated. But in the stands, it took an 11th-hour solution to avert musical disaster. Stymied by canceled flights and impassable snowy roads, the Cornhuskers marching band canceled its trip to the San Diego bowl game at the last minute, leaving nobody to strike up Nebraska fight songs during the Dec. 30 game against Arizona. The San Diego area chapter of the Nebraska alumni association put out an all-call for area alumni with musical experience to form an ad-hoc band to play "Hail Varsity" and "Dear Old Nebraska U" at the game. But university officials found an even better solution: a 100-member Lincoln, Neb., high-school marching band already in San Diego for a competition. Despite having just two days to prepare, the Marching Knights of Lincoln Southeast High School were happy to help. "Kids were jumping up and down" when they received the call, one band parent reported. "They were cheering. There were fist pumps. There was every kind of expression of happy."

Dead giveaway

Parole officials in Elkins, W.Va., knew the moment Brier Cutlip and Paul Bragg arrived for an appointment in December that the pair had violated the terms of their parole, which included a prohibition on possessing firearms. How did the officials know? Cutlip and Bragg showed up after a day of hunting and they were still wearing orange hunting vests. They were promptly rearrested.

Lost and found

Nine years after she had given up hope and 12 years after they had been separated, Gayl O'Donnell has finally been reunited with an old friend: a cat that ran away in 1997. O'Donnell first fell in love with Sonny, an orange tabby she took in as a kitten, in the 1990s. The Lake Wylie, S.C., resident said that after the cat ran away she spent three years calling animal shelters and putting up fliers before losing hope. Then, out of the blue on Dec. 12, she got a call from her vet that Sonny, who had an identification microchip, had been discovered at an animal shelter in Asheville, N.C., more than two hours away. O'Donnell was there to claim her kitty the next morning: "I cried myself to sleep many nights, and throughout the years always wondered what happened to Sonny. Where is he? It was such a mystery."

Guardian Angel

Angel the dog isn't just a boy's best friend. It's his guardian. Austin Forman, an 11-year-old British Columbia boy, noticed Angel the golden retriever acting strangely as he was gathering firewood in his backyard on Jan. 2. The dog, apparently sensing danger, stayed close to Austin as he moved through the yard. Then, Angel bolted from his side and directly into the path of a charging cougar that had been stalking the boy and gave the 11-year-old time to get away. "I knew at that moment that I would have to go get help, otherwise [Angel] wouldn't have any hope," Austin said. Mounties arrived soon enough to shoot the cougar and save Angel's life.

Shoe deal

A counterfeiter's blunder has turned into a boon for the homeless in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Police Department's anti-piracy unit confiscated an estimated 10,000 pairs of knockoff Adidas, Nikes, and other counterfeits. And instead of destroying the fakes, the LAPD said it plans on distributing the knockoff shoes to local homeless shelters so long as the trademark holders do not object. "It [was] a very timely Christmas present," said Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles. "Shoes and socks are one of the biggest concerns for people who are experiencing homelessness."


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