NewsQuirks 584

Mensa Rejects of the Week (Tie)

Eric Abbott, 56, ran aground in his homemade boat off the coast of Wales while trying to sail across the Irish Sea from Anglesey -- almost exactly where he had been rescued 48 hours earlier trying to navigate with a road map. In fact, British coastguards said the unemployed painter, whom they described as "clueless," has been picked up at sea 11 times, costing taxpayers more than $82,520.

Five men and two women suffered second-degree burns during a fund-raiser for the American Association of Nude Recreation in San Diego County, Calif., when they tried to walk across hot coals. A witness said the seven nudists didn't realize they were burned until they stepped off the coals; some almost fell head-first into the flames. Noting it was the group's first fire-walking event, general counsel Robert T. Page said, "Obviously, I think something went wrong."

A 40-year-old New York City man died after being run over by a subway train while trying to do a backflip and landed on the tracks. A witness said the victim looked like he was trying to perform a stunt similar to a scene in the movie "The Matrix."

Ties That Bind

Iran's morality police enacted a ban on wearing neckties and bow ties on the resort island of Kish. "Ties are a symbol of Western culture," said the directive, published in the newspaper Abrar-e Eqtesadi, "and their use is tantamount to publicizing this culture."

Two Times a Loser

The Ukrainian national soccer team lost its match against host England, 2-0, then was stranded when authorities impounded the two aircraft scheduled to take them home. Jonathan Nicholson, a spokesperson for the Civil Aviation Authority, explained the Ukrainian Airlines planes were seized because the firm had failed to pay air traffic control fees amounting to "a couple of million euros" (around $2 million).

Rescue Me

A 50-year-old man driving past a park in Lower Moreland Township, Pa., stopped to use a portable toilet, but dropped his keys into the murky water. Removing his pants and shoes, he stepped into toilet to retrieve them but got stuck in the lower chamber up to his hips. When rescuers, summoned by passers-by who heard his screams, cut him free 90 minutes later, the toilet seat was still stuck tight around his belly. They hosed him off and took him to a nearby hospital, where the seat was removed.

Coolidge Winesett, 75, was trapped for three days in the 5-foot hole of an outhouse at his home in Wythe County, Va., after the floor collapsed. Winesett told The Washington Post that he built the outhouse, consisting of oak planks over a dirt pit, in 1950 but doesn't use it much because he eats out a lot and uses restaurant restrooms. When he did use it in August, the rotted floorboards gave way. The boards kept him from falling into the deepest sewage, but he said the nails dug into his skin and he had to endure the smell, maggots, snakes, spiders and rats. "I compare it to the Bible's hell," he said after he was rescued when his mail carrier noticed the mail pil ing up and spotted his crutch beside the outhouse. He added he intends to spend what little money he has "to have me a bathroom put in."

The same day as Winesett's accident, Tillie Tooter's Toyota Tercel plunged 40 feet off a freeway bridge into a snake-infested swamp outside Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where the 83-year-old woman spent three days trapped with her feet under the dashboard and her upper body in the back seat. After Tooter's granddaughter reported her missing, authorities launched an extensive search but failed to find the wreck until a 15-year-old boy picking up litter spotted it. "I'm itchy all over," Tooter said after rescuers freed her. "I'm black and blue, but I'm here."

Farm workers Henry Redekop, 23, Gary Ferrier, 32, and Eric Schulz, 33, died after climbing into an 4,680-gallon liquid manure tank they were using to fertilize a farm field near Drayton, Ontario. Police speculated the men climbed into the nearly empty tank one at a time to repair a faulty part and were overcome by the fumes. Each time when the man who went inside failed to return, the next man went in looking for him.

School Daze

When graduating seniors at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., threw thousands of rubber balls into a school hallway as a prank, someone also released a dozen rats and mice and thousands of crickets, causing students to squash and kick the pests. While principal Manuel Ferreira was questioning a student about the prank, a group of seniors gathered outside the principal's office and shouted for Ferreira to free the young woman. As the protest grew louder, someone pulled a fire alarm, sending the school's 600 students outside and causing Ferreira to become "overly excited" about the day's events and collapse. He was hospitalized for angioplasty for a clogged artery and released two days later.

Something's Rotten in Sweden

The world's first museum dedicated to fermented herring is scheduled to open next year in northern Sweden. According to the newspaper Vasterbottens Kuriren, the $335,000 museum will explain the technique of preserving herring by adding a small amount of salt, then letting them ferment. The paper noted that 800,000 cans of the pungent delicacy, called surstromming (sour herring), are produced each year; only 2 percent are exported.

Any Excuse to Party

Audrey Kishline, 43, who founded a national organization that insisted problem drinkers can learn to limit their alcohol use, was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison for killing two people while driving drunk. After pleading guilty in Ellensburg, Wash., to driving with a blood-alcohol level three times the state's legal limit, Kishline admitted her program was merely a way for her to deny her problem drinking.

Charity Begins at Home

Frank Hudson, 56, the chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of San Francisco, billed the charity for his cosmetic surgery and charged the charity an average of $500 a week for meals at high-priced restaurants, according to the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Hudson denied any impropriety, saying his mistake was "one of not being sensitive enough to the potential for misperceptions." Asked why his salary, reported at $172,000, is nearly $77,000 higher than that of the Rev. Fred Kammer, the president of Catholic Charities USA, Hudson pointed out Kammer is an ordained priest. "He's taken a vow of poverty," Hudson said. "I haven't."

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