NewsQuirks 645

Curses, Foiled Again

A man showed up at a bank in Middletown, Conn., at 3:08 p.m. wearing a mask and carrying a note. Unfortunately for him, the bank closed at 3 o'clock. Bank employees stood inside watching the man pull on the locked door before he gave up and fled in a truck. A police sergeant said he witnessed the suspect throw his mask and the hold-up note out the truck window. Shortly after, Michael Maslar, 45, surrendered without incident.

Norwegian police investigating the robbery of a post office by a man who pulled a pair of underpants over his head found their work easier because the robber had written his hold-up note on the other side of a piece of paper containing his wife's name and other personal details. According to the Bergensavisen newspaper, when the 47-year-old suspect appeared in court, he said he had been too drunk to recall the incident. He did admit that he suspected he had been up to something, however, when he woke up the next day and found a large wad of money in his living room.

Let the Good Times Roll

After Tina Frascino, 50, hit a $2.1-million slot machine jackpot at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, the Jersey City, N.J., woman said that thanks to her good fortune, her husband would now be able to quit one of his two jobs.

A new law raised the weekly minimum wage to $1,050 for California's shepherds, who work the desolate slopes of the Sierra 13 hours a day and seven days a week during peak season. The measure also requires ranchers to provide the shepherds with running water, heat, cooking facilities, a refrigerator, a cell phone for emergencies and a weekly ride into town. "This will take them into 20th-century working conditions," said Chris Schneider of Central California Legal Services. "Instead of a shovel, they'll have access to a portable toilet."

Survey Says

A poll by the makers of Excedrin during National Headache Awareness Week in June found that accountants are the most frequent sufferers of headaches. Librarians are second.

We All Scream Ice cream truck driver Raymond Delgado, 20, pleaded guilty in Albany, N.Y., to swerving across a lane of traffic, hopping the curb and driving onto a sidewalk to frighten a 12-year-old boy. "He seemed to find some humor in scaring kids with an ice cream truck," Assistant District Attorney Mark Caruso said.

Father of the Year

Police in Monroe, Conn., charged Carl Corbett, 24, with chaining his 3-year-old daughter to a 25-pound bucket of dog food to punish her for taking a slice of bread without asking. Police said Corbett also punished his older children for not watching the younger girl by forcing them to do calisthenics all night.

Opportunity Knocks

The people of the Inuit territory of Nunavut in Canada announced plans to melt their icebergs, bottle the water and sell it. Hoping to cash in on the purity of the Arctic water, which was frozen thousands of years before pollution could affect it, the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation said it will begin by exporting 17,000 bottles to Japan for market tests.

Flame-Broiled

More than 100 Burger King marketing workers took part in a fire-walking ritual at a meeting intended to promote bonding. After signing a waiver acknowledging the possibility of injury while walking over white-hot coals at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla., about a dozen of the workers suffered first-degree and second-degree burns to their feet. Some needed wheelchairs the next day when they went to the airport to leave for another company retreat. Dana Frydman, Burger King's vice president for product marketing, who helped organize the event, was among the injured but said she had no regrets about the experience. "It made you feel a sense of empowerment," she said, "and that you can accomplish anything."

Brave New World

Sections of ovaries taken from two patients were implanted in their arms, where they continued to function, producing mature eggs and regulating the menstrual cycle. Kutluk Oktay, a reproductive endocrinologist who performed the procedure at New York Methodist Hospital, said it could benefit the 40,000 to 50,000 American women of reproductive age who undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer that can damage the ovaries. The tissue could be removed before treatment, then pregnancy accomplished through in-vitro fertilization, using a syringe to retrieve eggs from the arms.

Dr. Orly Lacham-Kaplan of the Institute of Reproduction and Development at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, announced she has developed a technique to fertilize eggs without using sperm. "What we do need to do next," Lacham-Kaplan said, "is to transfer those to surrogate mothers to see if we can obtain babies."

Warning: Smoking Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Alexander W. Gilbert, 18, a student at the University of Arkansas, climbed onto a fifth-floor window ledge of a smoke-free dormitory to smoke a cigarette. He slipped and fell to his death.

Waste Not, Want Not

Police in Toyoda, Japan, arrested a 25-year-old woman for violating the country's waste disposal act, accusing her of being the person who had been illegally dumping 60 pounds of vomit in plastic bags a week around town for more than a year. According to Tokyo's Mainichi Daily News newspaper, the woman told police she was bulimic and explained, "I didn't want to throw away the vomit near my home, so I took it to faraway places."

Smart Set

Philips Consumer Electronics Company has patented a device to let viewers avoid commercials they don't want to watch. TV sets will have a built-in disc drive that plays a program back a few seconds after recording it. During the short delay, the set looks for signs of commercials: picture fades, Internet domain names, logos and product slogans. It then checks the viewer's personal profiles to see if he or she has indicated objections to this ad. When it finds a match, the TV switches the screen to a pre-recorded scene selected by the viewer.

Sex Is Its Own Punishment

Police shut down Cambodia's only sex shop the day after it opened and confiscated boxes of rubber penises and vaginas, condoms, batteries and assorted Chinese aphrodisiacs. "These things are dangerous to Cambodian women's health and Cambodian culture," Phnom Penh's police chief, Yim Symany, insisted. "This is very dangerous -- look how large those rubber penises are. There is also medicine to keep sex going longer. If people use this medicine, it could be dangerous for them."

Compiled from the nation's press by Roland Sweet. Send original clippings, citing source and date, to P.O. Box 8130, Alexandria VA 22306.

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