Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Jim Mone

Quick Takes

Issue: "2012 Daniels of the Year," Dec. 15, 2012

Return to sender

After more than a decade, congregants of a North Dakota church are finally getting the chance to pay back. Over 15 years ago, when the St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, N.D., sustained over $4 million in damages during a 1997 flood, parishioners at St. Michael’s in Long Branch, N.J., raised money to help with repairs. Now, after the devastating hurricane that assaulted New Jersey’s coast, members of the North Dakota congregation have raised money to send back East to help their fellow Catholics rebuild after Hurricane Sandy. “We collected about $15,600, and the money is still coming in,” Gerard Braun told the Grand Forks Herald. “That spirit of generosity caught fire. … Several people mentioned to me that they thought it was a good thing we were doing, coming to the aid of the church that helped us.”

Taking a powder

Quick thinking, and just the right spice, helped a Stoneham, Mass., convenience store owner stave off a would-be robber on Nov. 11. With a gun pointed at his face, Sadaat Khan at first appeared to acquiesce to the thief’s demands to hand over money. But as he went to the register to get money, Khan picked up a bowl of chili powder he’d left out, wheeled and flung the contents into the robber’s face. Blinded and agitated by the stinging powder, the suspect wasn’t prepared for a square punch from the storeowner. Police say the suspect fled on foot. Khan attempted to give chase, but gave up.

Breathless feat

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Don’t hold your breath for this record to be broken any time soon. With a world-record time of 22 minutes, a Danish man can now once again proudly proclaim he can hold his breath underwater longer than anyone else. In an attempt to top his own spot in Guinness World Records, Stig Severinsen managed to hold his breath for an astonishing 22 minutes flat. Severinsen accomplished the feat back in May, but only recently did Guinness recognize the record. The Danish man’s breath-taking record-breaking topped his previous record of 20 minutes and 10 seconds. But, to be fair, Severinsen’s 20:10 time came as he was submerged not just in water, but in a tank full of sharks.

Bounced back

Everything bounced in the favor of police when authorities in Western Australia chased a teenage robbery suspect on Nov. 13. Police in Geraldton were chasing a 17-year-old suspected of stealing a scooter when the boy crashed the bike and fled on foot. With authorities closing in, the boy scaled a fence and leapt over the top only to ricochet off a trampoline on the other side, back up and directly into the clutches of policemen who pulled him back over. “I think it was one of those situations where you probably couldn’t repeat if you tried to,” Sergeant Grant Rosman said. “It was just fortunate for the police—but not for him. Everyone was positioned correctly there and he bounced straight back into their arms.”

Sticking his neck out

Armstrong Baillie says he does it to help strangers, but he may just be confusing them. The 32-year-old Scottish man puts on a giraffe costume twice a week to perform acts of kindness and other good deeds across Scotland. Over the last six months, Baillie, who is unemployed, has been spotted handing out bananas and water to runners in an Edinburgh half marathon, cleaning dog and cat cages, and even busking for meals by playing his kazoo and djembe drum. “The reason I picked a giraffe is that I have always been interested in animals and giraffes are my favorite animal,” Baillie told the BBC. “Giraffes are like me, as my head is in the clouds but my heart is in the right place.” The Scotsman said he normally travels about the country by hitchhiking but only takes rides in convertibles because of the height of his costume.

Nut case

Having skillfully lobbied to make her child’s school a nut-free environment, one Canadian mother has turned her aim at the oak trees in Vaughan, Ontario. Donna Giustizia says the oak trees near the campus of her child’s elementary school present a danger to youngsters with nut allergies. From her position as chair of the school’s allergy committee, Giustizia pleaded with city officials on Nov. 12 to cut down nearby oak trees lest children with nut allergies suffer severe anaphylactic reactions from acorns. But allergy physicians interviewed by the Toronto Star say they’ve never heard of an allergic reaction to the mere handling of acorns. School officials say they’ll abide with whatever the city decides.

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