Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Tick, tick, tick ...," May 7, 2011

Stereo killer

The first few times, Stanislaw Jarmolowicz of Loma Rica, Calif., asked politely. But after a while, he just grabbed his shotgun. Jarmolowicz reportedly blasted away his son's stereo system after the 24-year-old would not turn the volume down. Yuba County Sheriff's Department records indicate that Jarmolowicz complained to his live-in son about the volume of his music on April 4. And after his son apparently refused to turn down the stereo, the elder Jarmolowicz warned his son to step aside and fired his shotgun into the young man's speakers. Sheriff's deputies arrested Jarmolowicz but released him after his son indicated he didn't feel threatened by the episode.

Determined writer

One contestant in the field of thousands of students entered into the Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest stands out, not just because of his penmanship, but because of what he doesn't have: hands. Born without hands or forearms, fifth-grader Nick Maxim of Maine has managed to work up a technique of using a pen squeezed between his two undeveloped appendages to cross his Ts just as well as the nation's finest handwriters. "No matter what it is, if he wants to do something, he puts his mind to it and keeps working on it until he gets it the way he wants it," the boy's father told Portland's WMTW. So impressed were the contest judges that they created a new trophy in Nick's name for excellent handwriters with disabilities.

Crime didn't pay

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A Scottish ne'er-do-well found himself in a tight spot when a deadline to pay a court-imposed fine for assault was approaching. Without a job, Sean Collins decided to rob a Glasgow bank to pay his court fine. The 28-year-old approached the teller window with a tuna can filled with modeling clay and wires and told the woman behind the counter to hand over cash else he would detonate his look-alike bomb. But Collins' plan to commit criminal activity to pay off fines resulting from other criminal activity was foiled. A nearby shopping-center camera caught him on video as he walked into a restroom to change clothes.

Food fight

Chiding San Francisco for allowing a part of their city to be named after the "flesh of an abused animal," the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals dispatched a letter to San Francisco mayor Edwin Lee urging the city to rename its Tenderloin District to something more vegan. "The city deserves a neighborhood named after a delicious cruelty-free food instead," wrote Tracy Reiman, a PETA executive vice president. In its place, Reiman suggested the city change the name of the neighborhood to the Tempeh District, paying homage to the soybean-based meat replacement popular in vegan cuisine.

Buried treasure

Bill Fair can only wish it were his garage he was cleaning out. Hired by the Texas attorney general's office to clean out a storage unit after a judgment against the building's owner, the Lecompton, Kan., man made an incredible discovery. Under piles of junk, Fair discovered a classic 1966 Shelby Mustang-one of only 1,100 ever made. Encased in rubbish for perhaps decades, the vintage sports car was pristine, according to Fair. After he reported the discovery to the Texas attorney general's office, the car was quickly towed to Texas, where state officials hope to auction it off for around $200,000.

A big hurry

It's said that everything's bigger in Texas-and very soon speed limits might be too. State lawmakers are considering raising some speed limits on West Texas interstate highways to 85 miles an hour for the hundreds of miles of flat, straight highways crisscrossing the state's arid west. If the bill, which has passed Texas' House of Representatives, becomes a law, Texas will have the nation's highest speed limits.

Stamp surprise

The Postal Service was hoping to honor Lady Liberty; instead it honored Lady Luck. After printing 3 billion copies of a new postage stamp bearing the image of the Statue of Liberty, the Postal Service learned from a keened-eyed collector that it had made a mistake. The image on the stamp was not of the real statue but of a fiberglass and Styrofoam replica outside the New York-New York Hotel, a Las Vegas casino. The Postal Service said it regrets the error but has no plans to issue a recall. The casino is thrilled: "Regardless of how it came about," said company spokeswoman Yvette Monet, "New York-New York is honored to be the first Las Vegas casino resort to be on a U.S. stamp."

Unlikely voyage

When British pensioner Anthony Smith thought of his golden years of retirement, he only had one goal: to fulfill his childhood dream and sail across the Atlantic-on a raft. The 85-year-old Briton completed his unlikely voyage in April when he sailed his 44-foot raft into St. Maarten after 66 days at sea. Making a speed of just 4 knots, the raft crept across the Atlantic toward its intended target of the Bahamas, but strong winds blew the raft and its four-person crew off course. Despite landing several hundred miles off course, Smith considered the voyage a success. "Yes, of course it's a success," Smith said. "How many people do you know who have rafted across the Atlantic? . . . The word mutiny was only spoken about two or three times a day."

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