Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "2010 Election: The Governors," Oct. 23, 2010

Swiffer defense

The Swiffer Wet Jet: Perfect for mopping up a floor without drips or buckets. Perfect too for fighting off an armed assailant who wanders into your home. A 71-year-old Spartanburg, S.C., man says he chased off a burglar with his Swiffer on Sept. 15. Phillip Graham was cleaning up in the home when a masked assailant came in the back door and ordered the man to the ground. That's when Graham got annoyed. "I thought to myself, 'You ain't coming in this house, son. I'm going to see to it that you don't get in this house,'" Graham told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. Seeking to defend his home and his wife Irma (who was showering), Graham brandished his Swiffer as a prod and began attacking the suspect. The perpetrator quickly backed out and ran away. He is still at large.

Easy to track

A parolee robbing a pizzeria in Ypsilanti, Mich., forgot one crucial aspect of pulling off his crime: an airtight alibi. A Washtenaw County Sheriff's spokesman said Randolph Westbrook, 43, forgot to remove his GPS tether before walking into a Mr. Pizza restaurant on Sept. 22 and holding it up with a gun. Local law enforcement spotted the man riding a bicycle away from the crime scene a short time later, and eventually caught him in a wooded area when he tried to evade arrest on foot.

Cat crisis

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A cat-owning couple in Texas Township, Mich., is happy to have their fearless feline back after the cat scurried up a tree where it stayed for a week and a half. Pam Cameron and her husband say they phoned the local fire department, but firefighters didn't have a ladder long enough to reach the cat, which had climbed more than 50 feet up a tree in their backyard. The couple used a bow and arrow to shoot a string up to a branch near the cat to raise a laundry basket filled with food and water to keep the cat alive. But after about 250 hours in the tree the cat was finally coaxed to the ground, where it promptly scratched up a neighbor helping the Camerons.

A road by any other name...

A county commissioner in rural McIntosh County, Ga., believes he has a solution to one of the area's most vexing problems: sign theft. According to county officials, the sign thefts from a few conspicuous roads are costing the county about $17,000 in replacement charges. But County Commissioner Mark Douglas says the fix is easy: Change the names of the roads to make them less attractive to souvenir seekers. The roads in question? Green Acres (a hit television series), Boone's Farm (the name of a low-cost wine), and Mary Jane Lane (a synonym for marijuana).

"What's the point"

Thanks to the microchip embedded in Dave Moorehouse's lost Jack Russell terrier, authorities know exactly where the vagabond pooch is. But because of the United Kingdom's Data Protection Act, they won't tell Moorehouse. The 56-year-old from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, says the dog, Rocky, was taken off his leash from his home in January 2007. Now, more than three years later, the agency that monitors the pet's microchip asked Moorehouse if he wanted to update the database with the name of Rocky's new owner. "I told Anibase (the agency) that I didn't want to transfer ownership because my dog had been stolen," the self-employed bricklayer told the Telegraph. "I asked them for the name and address of the people who had my dog but they wouldn't give me the details" because to do so would violate the Data Protection Act. "What's the point of having your pet microchipped if you can't get him back?"

Home sweet foam

Looking for a sweet 4,000-square-foot house constructed entirely out of polyurethane foam? One Minnesota realtor has a deal for you. The locally famous Minnetrista, Minn., foam house known as "Ensculptic" has hit the real-estate listings with an asking price of $237,000. Built in 1969, the house's façade has been likened to fungus. Without any right angles to aid calculations, real estate agents had to depend on some advanced geometry to calculate the square footage. And just in case no buyer wants to occupy the mushroom house, realtors listed the demolition cost to clear the foam building from the 8.4-acre property.

Big bash

Organizers were hoping that the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest would be known by its special bicentennial revelries. Instead, patrons of the historic German festival may remember the event for beer mug brawling. Police in Germany have reported a spike in beer mug violence in the festival, which began Sept. 19. According to police reports, this year's Oktoberfest has seen a 66 percent increase in the number of people being struck in the head by the festival's one-liter glass mugs. Local authorities believe they have sniffed out the cause: "One of the reasons is an excess of alcohol consumption."

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