Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

"Quick Takes" Continued...

Issue: "O Jerusalem," April 10, 2010

Produce the body

Cynthia Lacy of Treasure Island, Fla., had a simple request for the telecom giant Verizon after her father died in June: Please shut off his telephone service. Lacy even sent the company a copy of her father's death certificate, but Lacy said customer service agents told her that she needed her father's secret PIN number to shut off service. Even after Lacy explained to agents that she couldn't exactly ask her deceased father for his PIN number, Verizon refused to help. "Well, there's nothing else I can do for you," Lacy said a representative told her before laughing and hanging up. Higher-ups at Verizon eventually sided with Lacy, but only after she took her complaint to the local newspaper. The company said it has disciplined and placed in coaching the offending customer service representative.

Colonial power

After a dozen years and nearly $300,000, officials in the United Kingdom are still not able to declare victory over the island's last remaining colony of termites. British authorities discovered the colony in two infested homes in North Devon in 1998. Scientists tasked with eradicating the island's only termite infestation said the wood-devouring creatures probably arrived in Great Britain aboard a potted plant shipped from the Canary Islands. The scientists spent 12 years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to finish off the North Devon termites, treating the colony with growth-inhibiting chemicals that would prevent them from reproducing. But despite years of silence from the wood-eating bugs, a new colony has sprung up in the same location. The scientists say the new termites are probably from a subterranean splinter colony that avoided the original chemical attack.

Watch out

Most high-end watches feature precious metals or elaborate designs. The Swiss watchmaker Artya went in the opposite direction: The company's Coprolite watch boasts a face made of fossilized dinosaur feces. "A relic of the Jurassic period," says an Artya press release, "it has taken millions of years for this organic substance to embrace its present warm and matchless tints." The price tag for the "dinosaur dung watch": $11,290.

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