Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
APRIL 27, 1998:
Dateline: Pakistan--Pin? What pin? A live hand grenade
turned in at a Multan, Pakistan, police station as evidence exploded
shortly after its arrival. The station commander was killed, five
others were injured.
Dateline: California--Stories of late mail are hardly worthy
of note anymore. But when Hristo Stamenkovic of Riverside, Calif.,
received a four-year-old check from the phone company in his mailbox,
the retired city engineer decided to put the U.S. Postal Service
to the test. Stamenkovic set out to calculate which was faster:
mail or snails. The check was postmarked July 14, 1994, the envelope
was properly addressed and the postage was correct. According
to Stamenkovic's final calculations, the envelope traveled the
90 miles from San Diego to Riverside at a rate of 6.921 inches
per hour--far slower than the average snail.
Dateline: Tennessee--A new mother who was sent home from
a Memphis hospital with the wrong baby is now refusing to give
it up. LaDonna Harris, 23, gave birth on Good Friday. The other
baby, whose mother's identity was withheld by the hospital, was
born Saturday. Apparently, a hospital worker accidentally placed
the babies in the wrong bassinets on Sunday. The Regional Medical
Center said last Wednesday that it has now correctly matched the
babies to their mothers. Harris, however, is not convinced that
the mix-up has been corrected. She told a local television station,
"I just can't understand how they can give me the wrong baby.
I know that's my baby."
Dateline: Ohio--High school student Sean O'Brien was vindicated
by a local court last week for "insulting" a teacher.
O'Brien was suspended from classes after school officials discovered
the teen had made fun of a teacher on his personal, at-home Web
site. O'Brien had posted his band teacher's yearbook photo and
called him an "overweight middle-aged man who does not like
to get haircuts." Apparently, the courts found nothing too
incriminating in the description and ordered the school district
to pay O'Brien $30,000 in damages for the inappropriate suspension.
Dateline: New York--An acrobat from Gabon performing in
the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was rushed to
a hospital with burns over 20 percent of his body after his costume
caught fire in front of a live crowd. Jacques Mbembo was jumping
over a flaming stick when the grass skirt he was wearing burst
into flames. As thousands of spectators watched, the 22-year-old
Mbembo dropped to the floor, rolled around and finally ran from
the stage engulfed in flames. He was later listed in serious condition
at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center with second- and third-degree
burns covering a fifth of his body. After Mbembo's dramatic exit
from the center ring, the afternoon matinee at New York's Madison
Square Garden continued without interruption.
Dateline: Pennsylvania--Mad scientist alert! Don't ask
how, but Peter Fong, a biology professor at Gettysburg College
has discovered that the widely prescribed anti-depressant drug
Prozac can play a productive role in the breeding of freshwater
clams and mussels. According to Fong's research, Prozac acts on
mollusks in much the same way it does on humans--allowing subjects
to secrete more seratonin, a neurotransmitter that exists in all
organisms and regulates mood. Freshwater clams and zebra mussels
have rarely been observed to spawn without the introduction of
an artificial chemical. Fong believes Prozac to be 500 times more
effective than current chemical means used to get mollusks "in
the mood" to procreate.
--compiled by Devin D. O'Leary