Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "All tied up," Sept. 24, 2011

Radio Ray

Texans do love their cars, but this might be stretching it. Pastor David Ray on Aug. 27 began holding church services in the parking lot of a suburban Dallas high school-a kind of drive-thru church he calls Sanctuary Under the Sky. Parishioners of Ray's Presbyterian Church of the Master drive into a parking spot outside the high school, pick up a bulletin and tune into the worship service on their car radios while watching him through the windshield. Ray says he wanted to reach out to unchurched people. "I think [Jesus] would like it. His stuff was outdoors," Ray told WFAA-TV. "A lot of trouble He had was indoors."

Knockout plan

Knocking down old casinos is hardly news in Las Vegas. But the planned demise for the Harmon Hotel is unusual even by Vegas standards. Building owner MGM halted construction on the non-gaming, 27-floor hotel in 2008 and on Aug. 15 announced plans to implode the building before it opened. Back in 2008, engineers on the project discovered major construction flaws that would make the building unstable in the event of a major earthquake. MGM officials say building contractor Perini botched installation of support steel making the project untenable-a claim Perini plans to fight in court.

Heavy lifter

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He may be a non-commissioned officer, but Marine Sgt. David Douglas really knows how to push some weight around. The Camp Pendleton Marine notched a world record, bench-pressing 738.5 pounds at the U.S. Powerlifting Association Open in the event for lifters weighing under 308 pounds. "People were really patting me on the back," Douglas told WTKR. "And [making] little jokes here and there about, 'Can you pick up my car if I have a flat tire?'" No, but Douglas said he probably could lift a small elephant. The 6-foot, 272-pound man nicknamed "The Beast" said he could only get 145 pounds up in high school and credits the Marines' powerlifting team for his record-breaking performance.

Needing some space?

Feeling a bit squeezed for hard drive space? An IBM project being constructed in California is sure to make you a bit jealous. Researchers and engineers are constructing a data storage system that, when completed, should allow for 120 petabytes of storage. By comparison, that's enough data storage capacity to store 24 billion MP3s or the storage equivalent to more than 83 billion 3.5-inch floppy disks from the 1990s. IBM said it's constructing the system by piecing together 200,000 conventional hard drives for a customer that wants to use the system for complex computer simulations. "This 120 petabyte system is on the lunatic fringe now, but in a few years it may be that all cloud computing systems are like it," project leader Bruce Hillsberg told MIT's Technology Review.

Diamond dinner

For a Georgia jewelry store owner, there's only one consolation to the news that your dog has just eaten $10,000 worth of diamonds: This too shall pass. Chuck Roberts of Albany, Ga., said his small dog Honey Bun is only supposed to greet customers at the door as they enter the jewelry shop he co-owns. But sometime in early August, Honey Bun managed to stumble upon a pack of small, loose diamonds valued at over $10,000. Honey Bun apparently gobbled up the diamonds as if they were kibbles. After eliminating most other possibilities, Roberts took Honey Bun to a clinic to be X-rayed on a hunch. Sure enough, Honey Bun had some precious cargo in her stomach. The next day, Roberts paid close attention to her droppings and successfully recovered diamonds.

Electric biker

What do you do when Guinness World Records doesn't have a category to fit your particular specialty? You petition them to create one for you. Electric bicycle enthusiast Allan Lear of Queensland, Australia, did just that and the organization said it would credit him with a world record if he can manage to electrically pedal his way more than 745 miles in one week. If Lear's plans to ride more than 185 miles every day into the Australian outback beginning Aug. 26 come to fruition, he will have set the record much closer to 1,000 miles. The 45-year-old's highly modified bike will do much of the pedaling for him thanks to its electrical drive, provided his support car can properly charge the bicycle's batteries.

Pant protection

Florida has a new dress code for schools this fall, but it's one that almost all students until recent years would have thought obvious: Keep your pants up. State Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, championed a law in the Florida legislature banning the popular saggy pants on school campuses, and as classes began this semester he went to several schools to hand out belts. Students who do not comply face suspensions from school and extracurricular activities. Siplin, who is African-American, saw opposition to the law from the ACLU and the NAACP, but he told the Reuters news service that he found support in communities. "The parents, the grandmothers, the professional people, they say, 'How can they walk down the street showing their behinds?' It's not civilized."

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