Dispatches > Quick Takes
Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes


Issue: "Back to School," Sept. 7, 2013

Pet food

A Bethlehem, Pa., man cited by authorities for having too many chickens at his house on Aug. 8 told police to chill out: He planned on eating the birds over the weekend. Armstrong Millien’s declaration didn’t stop police officers from issuing a citation, but it was enough to get animal control authorities off his back. Prior to eating three pet chickens, Millien had exceeded Bethlehem’s pet limit of six animals.

A tall order

Spanish architects building a 700-foot skyscraper on Spain’s Mediterranean coast discovered a bit of a design flaw: The 47-floor building’s elevator only goes to the 20th floor. What’s more, architects for the InTempo building didn’t realize their mistake until it was only two months away from completion. According to Spain’s El Pais newspaper, the Benidorm structure—once planned to be Europe’s tallest residential building—now does not have room for an elevator to service floors 20 through 47. The architects have resigned and project leaders are scrambling for an elevator fix. 

Great balls of fire

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Firefighters have a new weapon in the war against wildfires: pingpong balls. On August 7, firefighters battling blazes in Montana dropped more than 16,000 flaming pingpong balls into a swath of woods west of Darby, Mont., in an effort to fight the Gold Pan fire. The modified pingpong balls were preloaded with accelerant and designed to burst into flames after being dropped from helicopters. According to firefighters in Montana battling the blaze, the technique of intentionally setting fire to wilderness surrounding the fire ultimately helps contain the blaze.

Pant protection

Caretakers at Israel’s largest animal sanctuaries came up with a remarkably mundane solution to a tough problem. When Haim the donkey was brought to Ramat Gan Safari, specialists noted sores and cuts on his leg that were attracting flies. The flies caused the donkey to gnaw at his own legs, which invited even more flies. When normal bandages and coverings didn’t work, caretakers in August fashioned a very human solution. Using a special soft fabric, they stitched together a pair of trousers and suspenders for Haim to wear. The plan worked so well, they fashioned a pair for his hind legs also.

Contract killer

Most people don’t read the fine print on credit card applications. Dmitry Argarkov decided to find out whether banks themselves read it. After getting an advert promoting a credit card from Tinkoff Credit Systems, the 42-year-old Russian man scanned the credit application into his computer and began modifying the contract. After setting the interest rate on the contract to zero percent, Argarkov then stipulated no credit limit. The computer savvy Russian also wrote in a proviso that the bank would owe him nearly $200,000 if it tried to cancel the contract. Argarkov signed the revised contract and mailed it back to Tinkoff, where bank officials also signed the deal. But when Argarkov refused to pay his credit card bill, Tinkoff sued him for his debt plus interest and fees. In early August, a Russian judge sided with Argarkov, saying the bank must honor the contract as signed. Argarkov, meanwhile, started paperwork to sue Tinkoff for violating the terms of his contract.

Diamond find

Michael Dettlaff, a 12-year-old tourist from North Carolina, was on vacation with his parents at Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park on July 31 when he stumbled upon something especially shiny on the ground. Upon further examination, the boy’s find turned out to be a 5.16-carat honey-brown diamond that could be worth up to $15,000. According to park rules, tourists can keep any precious stones they find. “If it can get cut and it’s valuable, I think I’d probably want to have it cut and sell it,” Michael told ABC News. “If it’s not, well, then it’s a souvenir.” Michael named the stone “God’s Glory Diamond.”

Summer help

While other boys his age spent their summers playing Xbox or texting, one 11-year-old was busy raising $16,000 for charity. Texan Dyllon Orthman mowed lawns all summer long around his hometown of Dalhart to raise money for the victims of the Moore, Okla., tornado. His generous neighbors pitched in too, paying the 11-year-old generously for the 90 lawns he mowed. “I worked in 104 degrees. That didn’t stop me,” Dyllon told KVII. “I’m still going on my feet. My dad always says, ‘You’re going to work it to the bone, Dyllon.’”

Out for a walk

Under normal circumstances, a pet on the run for five days could be considered lost forever. That is, unless the pet is a turtle. A Crawley, U.K., family was reunited with their pet turtle on July 29 after the animal spent five days traipsing from its home. According to owner David Peters, the turtle named Aston only made it half a mile. A neighborhood girl found the tortoise while collecting her ball from a bush and turned the animal in to police. When Peters phoned police to alert them to a missing animal, authorities said they had Aston safe and sound. “That’s quite a trot,” Peters told the Crawley News of the distance traveled by the turtle. “It would only take five to eight minutes for a human to walk, but it’s a two or three-day walk for a tortoise.”


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