Just because your roof is snow-covered doesn't also mean it's not flammable. That's the hard lesson a Louisville, Ky., suburbanite learned when he tried to melt icicles off the roof of his Buechel, Ky., home with a blowtorch. Instead, the man set his house on fire, causing severe damage to his attic, roof, and a new addition. A police spokesman questioned the man's judgment: "Breaking them off is what most people do. Choosing to use a torch to melt them, in hindsight, he probably agrees is not the best idea."
Their ears are burning
If common sense doesn't stop people from shoving candles in their ears and setting them on fire, what hope does the Food and Drug Administration have of convincing homeopathic devotees? The FDA again warned American consumers in February against using ear candles: fabric dipped in wax, rolled up like a siphon, placed in a person's ear, and ignited. Supporters of the ear candle say the technique helps draw earwax out of a patient's ear. The FDA, however, says people are more likely to clog their ears accidentally with molten candle wax-or burn themselves, or puncture an eardrum with the ear candles.
Jesse Pozvek tried to run, but he didn't get far. Authorities in Thomaston, Conn., say the 21-year-old fled on foot after crashing his car on Route 8 on Feb. 21. When emergency crews arrived, they discovered Pozvek had fallen off a 70-foot cliff as he attempted to scramble away from the car crash. Miraculously, Pozvek survived the fall with just a leg injury. Police haven't filed charges-yet.
More than 7,000 miles from home, a horde of New Zealand mudsnails is about to get an eviction notice. State authorities in Washington are making plans to drain the fresh water out of Capitol Lake near Olympia and replace it with saltwater to kill off the non-native snails, which are considered parasites. New Zealand mud snails, which are no bigger than a grain of rice, reproduce asexually and have no known predators in Washington. State officials, who do not know how the mudsnails got into the lake, are hoping to eliminate them before they infest the rest of the Puget Sound region.
Police in Seoul, South Korea, say they have in custody a 59-year-old man who made off with over 1,200 pairs of expensive designer shoes. But the unidentified man didn't steal the loafers and pumps from shoe boutiques. Instead, the thief cased Korean funeral homes. As per local custom, Koreans leave their shoes outside when entering funeral homes to mourn the dead. Police say the suspect would wear cheap slippers to memorial services, pretend to be a mourner, and slip on the nicest shoes he could find when he left. According to police, the man used the funeral scam to help keep his second-hand shoe store stocked.
Monk for a weekend
Those craving to feed their inner ascetic will now be allowed to try out a monastic lifestyle with monks near Vienna, Austria. The Franciscans from Maria Enzersdorf are taking in curiosity seekers for one-weekend trial runs of working and praying with the brothers. And while male applicants may simply be seeking a peaceful weekend, the Franciscans are hoping for some conversions along the way. According to the monastery chaplain, three graduates of the weekend program are now considering joining the brothers permanently.
Fetched and caught
German police say a dog helped locate a suspect on Feb. 19, but it wasn't a police dog. When authorities arrived at the wanted man's home on that day, a friend holding a Jack Russell terrier said the man wasn't there. But the behavior of the dog made them suspicious. "When he put the dog down," police said in a statement, "it proceeded with a wagging tail to a small cupboard . . . and stood expectantly in front of it." The dog, it turns out, belonged to the suspect, who was "hunched up inside" the cupboard. Authorities did not identify the man or his alleged crime.
Veterinarians in the United Kingdom are urging pet owners to help pooches lose their paunches. The veterinary charity People's Dispensary for Sick Animals reports that more than one-third of all British dogs are overweight and not exercising enough. The organization claims owners have gotten into the unhealthy habit of giving their pets too many treats and too many table scraps. And dogs are not alone. The PDSA claims the average British cat is 5 percent heavier than three years ago.
Little dog, big bite
Toby the Pomeranian may not look like an attack dog, but when his owner Michelle Mayhew of Plymouth, U.K., needed him, Toby fit the bill. The 35-year-old mother was at her apartment in February when an intruder broke in and threatened her. But, Mayhew says, her tiny dog Toby jumped into the tussle, biting the assailant sharply in the heel. Startled, the man kicked at the dog and fled on foot. "The man could have killed my dog and he could have killed me," Mayhew told The Herald of Plymouth, "but Toby's bravery saved me."
Perils of fame
Zhora, a former circus performer in Russia, is going into rehab to treat his smoking and drinking problems-habits that were making him aggressive toward others. But one thing makes Zhora different from other washed-up stars: Zhora is a chimpanzee. Zhora reportedly took up smoking and drinking after being transferred from the circus to a zoo in Rostov, where visitors provided him with cigarettes and beer for laughs. He's now being sent to Kazan, a city about 500 miles east of Moscow, for treatment. "The beer and cigarettes were ruining him," a local paper reported. "He would pester passers-by for booze."