Dispatches > Quick Takes
Associated Press/Photo by Mike Groll

Quick Takes


Issue: "Day of reckoning," June 14, 2014

Cushioned treasure

A trio of college students at SUNY New Paltz in New York earlier this year bought a lumpy couch for $20 at a Salvation Army store. It wasn’t until May that they found out why it was so lumpy. One of the students, inspecting the cushions to find the source of the lumps, found a bank bag filled with $100 and $50 bills. In total, the couch contained more than $40,000. But it also contained a withdrawal slip from a bank. Using that slip, the students were able to track down the money’s owner—a 91-year-old woman who kept her money in her sofa because she doesn’t trust banks—and give it back. Her children had sold her couch when she went into the hospital last year.

Sauced-up sausage

Templeton, Iowa, is home to the famous Templeton Rye whiskey distillery. It may soon become known for its whiskey pigs. Distillery president Scott Bush says he is experimenting with ways to infuse pigs with a rye whiskey taste. Bush says his pigs—collectively known as the Heritage Pork Project—are being fattened on spent grain mash left over from the rye-making process at his distillery. And though the company hopes to sell the small batch of slaughtered animals online at the end of June, Bush concedes he has no idea what the pork will taste like. “We’re dealing with some logistical challenges ... we’re not delivering a pack of gum here,” Bush told the Los Angeles Times.

Sent packing

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Without a jailhouse, a police officer, or even a set of handcuffs, justice in one small Alaskan village can be difficult to mete out. That’s why village elders in Tanana, a community located in the tribal lands of the Athabascan Indians, have looked to their past in order to deal with violent criminals in their midst. In May, the town council voted to exile two men who contributed to the shooting death of an Alaska state trooper flown in to quell violence. Banishment, an ancient tribal practice, occupies a legal gray area in Alaska.

Help wanted

The pay isn’t much, and the hours will be long. But officials with China’s Giant Panda Protection and Research Center should expect a deluge of applications. After all, the job opening is entitled “Panda Caretaker.” Officials with the center, located in Sichuan Province, advise that applicants must be at least 22 years old and have basic knowledge of pandas. According to the listing, which was posted in May and expires July 15, “Your work has only one mission, spending 365 days with the Pandas and sharing in their joys and sorrows.” The new hire at the panda base will earn about $32,000 per year.

Sudden swarm

A truck wreck in northern Delaware on May 20 caused quite a buzz. That’s because the truck’s contents—20 million honeybees—careened out of their hives and swarmed Interstate 95. The tractor-trailer fell on its side during a turn onto the interstate near Newark, Del. That led to 460 individual hives in the hold, each containing about 50,000 bees, to break apart. Those closest to the crash were stung dozens if not hundreds of times. Emergency crews sprayed down the angry swarm with water hoses. “There’s no rounding them up,” State Police spokesman Paul Shavack told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “The water will disperse and calm the bee activity.” No one was seriously injured in the crash.

Difficult delivery

There was no way pro skier Jesper Modin could avoid the accident. Driving toward his home in Ostersund in Northern Sweden, Modin crested a hill and an elk appeared in the middle of the roadway. “It smashed into the windscreen and went tumbling over the roof,” Modin told The Local. The elk perished in the accident. From there, Modin had his totaled car towed 90 minutes to a local town where the skier received the surprise of his life. When he went back into his car to retrieve some items, Modin noticed a newborn elk with umbilical cord still attached alive and well beside his passenger seat. In the shock of the accident, Modin had not noticed the baby elk jettisoned from its mother, and landing safely inside the cabin. Authorities turned the baby elk over to animal control experts.

Occupational hazard

They told him the news industry would be hard. But not this hard. Michael Dresser, a Baltimore Sun reporter who covers state government in Annapolis, made a startling discovery in May: He’s allergic to newspapers. In particular, the scribe is allergic to pine resin, a component in newsprint ink. Dresser, who has toiled for nearly 38 years at The Sun, told colleagues in a May 16 memo that he’s relieved finally to have an explanation for his allergy symptoms, but he noted the irony isn’t lost on him. “Any sympathy is appreciated,” he told co-workers, “but feel free to laugh.”


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