What he said
Nobody can accuse Kristina Green (right) of Maricopa, Ariz., of trying to keep up with the Joneses—but she's not a grinch, either. Green's neighbor, Eric Cyr (center), decorated his house and yard this year with a blinding array of 16,000 lights. Green's response: Green lights that spell out the word 'ditto' and red lights that make an arrow pointing to Cyr's massive display.
Race to the altar
In the spirit of Alfred P. Doolittle, Timothy N. Thompson on Dec. 8 was determined to get to the church on time. Police arrested Thompson, 23, in the parking lot of Our Savior Catholic Church in Portage, Ind., for driving 100 miles per hour to the church. Thompson, 23, reportedly told police that he was supposed to get married at the church at 7 p.m., about the same time as his arrest. Police say prior to his arrest Thompson spun his Jeep in a doughnut in the parking lot while relatives at the church flailed their arms.
Don't laugh. Or at least don't start ROFL. Newberry College in Newberry, S.C., will offer a major in social media beginning next year. While many students assume they know more about the subject than their professors, associate professor Tania Sosiak says the major won't be all fun and tweets, but "an exciting major" to prepare graduates to be "pioneers in a cutting edge industry." The major, the college stated in a news release, will teach students to develop marketing and branding strategies for companies, nonprofits, and other employers.
Getting the boot
When it comes to enforcing parking policy, an employee at a Quicky's convenience store in New Orleans makes no exceptions. On Nov. 30, paramedics rushed in their ambulance to the store to treat a man who was experiencing chest pain. But after paramedics loaded the sick man into the back of the ambulance and attempted to speed away, all they heard was a loud thud. After inspecting the ambulance, the paramedics found that an employee of the Quicky's store had put a metal boot on one of their wheels for not parking their ambulance inside an official parking spot. With one ambulance down, paramedics were able to summon another to transport the ailing man to the hospital.
What once was the pride and joy of the southwestern French town of Yvrac has been turned into a pile of rubble—all because a demolition crew mistook the building to tear down. The mayor's office announced Dec. 5 that the town's beloved Chateau de Bellevue was razed accidentally when work crews mistook the 18th-century chateau for a different building on the property. "The whole village is in shock," the former owner said. "How can this construction firm make such a mistake?" According to local reports, the offending crew misunderstood renovation plans made by Russian businessman Dmitry Stroskin, the chateau's present owner. Stroskin has vowed to rebuild a replica of the chateau to exacting specifications.
A fine mess
Administrators with the Phoenix Public Library system have long known they had an overdue book problem. It just took someone plugging all the numbers into a calculator to discover how big. Library officials in November told the Arizona Republic that patrons of the Arizona city's library system owe $4.3 million in fines on about 40,000 overdue books, tapes, and cassettes, or about 2 percent of the library's total collection of 1.8 million. But library officials are reluctant to begin making major changes in policy. The last big change, according to the Arizona Republic, was ending the library's policy of unlimited renewals last summer.
For Middle Eastern men whose whiskers won't cut it in a mustache-conscious world, a handful of plastic surgeons have the answer. Turkey-based plastic surgeon Selahattin Tulunay offers locals and medical tourists a procedure that lifts hair from other parts of the head and grafts them above the upper lip to create a wispy, respect-generating 'stache. According to Tulanay, his grafted mustaches help whiskerless Arab men participate evenly in a society that judges men partly on the quality of their soup strainers. "For some men who look young and junior, they think [a mustache] is a must to look senior … more professional and wise," he told CNN. "They think it is prestigious."
For each of the last 37 years, residents of a wealthy Dallas suburban enclave have welcomed thousands to drive through their neighborhood to witness their annual Christmas lights show. But this year, at least one group won't be invited: The Salvation Army. Some residents of the Interlochen neighborhood in Arlington, Texas, said they'd rather end the tradition than allow The Salvation Army to continue to solicit donations from the nearly 2,000 cars that drive through the neighborhood to see the lights. "My house is going to be like the Black Hole of Calcutta," resident Jim Haskell vowed in an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, arguing the event is for people to see Christmas decorations rather than make donations. In an email, homeowners association president Ralph Sobel called the charity group "un-Christian" for setting up a kettle next to the Christmas light route.
School officials triggered a lockdown at a Florida high school on Dec. 4 after a student brought an amount of mercury into the building for a chemistry project. According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, a teacher assigned students to bring to class one of the materials found on the Periodic Table of Elements. The offending item containing mercury? A thermometer.