Dispatches > Quick Takes
Amanda Lucier/The Virginian-Pilot

Quick Takes


Issue: "Moneymaker," March 23, 2013

Armed and hungry

At any other pizza parlor, flashing your weapon might earn you some trouble. But at All Around Pizza in Virginia Beach, Va., showing off your gun will get you a 15 percent discount. Owner Jay Laze, who openly carries a firearm and encourages employees to do likewise, said he was inspired to offer the discount after reading about a Utah frozen yogurt shop doing the same thing. Twitter users from the area expressed both delight and embarrassment over the discount, while user @DaeHoGam aptly noted, “[It] is one pizza place you don’t want to risk prank calling.”

Le mot juste

It’s being called “Pastagate” but the Quebec language police may not think that nickname is French enough. In February the French-speaking province’s language-enforcement bureaucracy, the OQLF, ordered a Montreal restaurateur to rewrite his menu after declaring the word pasta might offend French-speaking patrons. The agency, which is charged with promoting the French language in the province, told restaurant owner Massimo Lecas that he would have to use the French word for pasta or face a fine. After a resulting uproar, Lecas tweeted his supporters: “Grazie...oooops MERCI!”

Bad call

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If you call the police often enough to ask for a ride, at some point they will oblige. Crestview, Fla., police arrested a local 18-year-old on Feb. 2 after the teen made three frivolous phone calls to 911 in a single day. In the teen’s first call, he asked a dispatcher for help finding a place to stay. After being warned by authorities, he called again an hour later asking for a ride back to his home in South Carolina. Again warned, the young man called back and repeated his request for a ride. Police quickly arrived to give the teen a ride—not home, but to the station, where they charged him with misuse of the 911 system. 

Airborne assault

After exhausting traditional methods to control the population of invasive brown tree snakes in Guam, the federal government will begin bombing the island with dead mice. The invasive snakes have proved a difficult adversary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Government officials blame the more than 2 million non-native snakes for driving several local bird species to extinction since the reptiles were introduced to the Pacific Ocean territory more than 50 years ago. So beginning in April, the USDA plans on laying a tantalizing trap for the hungry snakes. First, department officials will hide poison in the stomachs of a batch of recently deceased mice. Next, they will affix the baited mice to cardboard and a small parachute. Finally, officials will bombard a tree canopy. If all goes as planned, the mouse bombs will become stuck in the limbs near where the snakes congregate. One potential drawback: “Dead mice,” says a USDA spokesman, “are attractive to snakes only for 2-3 days.” 

Pot shot

Mexican police say they’ve found a cannon that had fired over a border fence from Mexico onto U.S. territory in California. The ammo wasn’t artillery shells—but  packages of marijuana. The Associated Press reports that Mexican authorities began searching for the cannon after U.S. officials reported finding numerous drug packages on the U.S. side of the border. 

High climber

Climbing Mt. Everest once wasn’t enough for a Nepalese Sherpa named Chhurim—she had to do it twice in one climbing season. Chhurim, who like most Sherpas in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal goes by only one name, became the first woman on record to scale Everest twice in the same climbing season. Guinness World Records certified the feat on Feb. 25. The 29-year-old woman first climbed to the top of the 29,035-foot summit on May 12, 2012, joining the small club of mountaineers who have seen the top of Everest. Just a week later, on May 19, she did it again. “I am very happy for this recognition,” she told Agence France-Presse news service. “I was determined that the record should be held by a Nepalese woman and I’m proud to be one.”

Junk collectors

As the United States Post Office struggles to make ends meet, one Austin, Texas, start-up thinks it can find a profit by taking the mail out of your mailbox. For $4.99 per month, Outbox says customers can have the company pick up their mail, scan it, and deliver an image of their postal mail to any laptop, smart phone, or tablet. If customers want the original correspondence, they can opt for redelivery. The company, which calls its mail collectors “unpostmen,” operates in Austin and began taking customers in San Francisco on Feb. 26.


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