Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
Dateline: Belgium—A woman is finally being allowed to take the physical portion of her driver's license test after failing the written portion 37 times in a row. The 38th time was the charm for the woman, who finally passed the exam last month. The woman, unnamed due to Belgian privacy laws, had paid approximately $15 in fees for each of her previous attempts. She told Belgian newspaper Het Laatse Niews that she blames her string of failures on “nerves,” but says she believes she will pass the driving test with flying colors. That remains to be determined.
Dateline: China—A chain-smoking chimp at the Qinling Safari Park is finally getting that monkey off her back. According to keepers at the park, located in the Shaanxi province, it took only four weeks for the 27-year-old Ai Ai to break her cigarette habit using a step-down process. After noticing that her health was beginning to deteriorate, the handlers used a number of methods to slowly divert the chimp from cigarettes. A walk after breakfast, music session after lunch and gym after dinner were among the tactics. “In the first few days, she squealed for cigarettes every now and then, but as her life became more colorful, she gradually forgot about them altogether,” one zookeeper told the Xinhua news agency. Ai Ai started smoking cigarette butts she picked up off the ground shortly after her first male companion died in 1989. She took up chain-smoking in 1997 out of loneliness and grief when her second companion died and a daughter was moved to another zoo. Zoo visitors contributed to her bad habit, tossing lit cigarettes into the famous chimp's cage on a regular basis.
Dateline: Denmark—Santa Claus has successfully sued the Danish Air Force after several of his reindeer died of fright from some wayward jet fighters. The Danish Air Force said last Thursday it has agreed to pay out $5,000 in compensation to a part-time Santa Claus whose reindeer died of heart failure after two F-16 jets passed over Olaf Nikkanoff's grazing farm in central Denmark this past February. Several of the reindeer collapsed and died, leaving Nikkanoff with only one animal to pull his sleigh this year. He complained to the Air Force, which agreed to compensate him for the cost of the reindeer and veterinary expenses. “We got a letter from Santa complaining about his reindeer's death and are looking into it seriously,” Air Force spokesperson Capt. Moarten Jensen said. An investigation into the planes' flight paths proved that they were responsible for the deaths. Nikkanoff said he would use the money to purchase new reindeer in time for the busy Christmas season.
Dateline: Germany—A company has come up with a novel way to beat the smoking ban in bars. German beer maker Nautilus is currently test-marketing NicoShot, a beer that contains 6.3 percent alcohol and three milligrams of nicotine. Despite the potent mixture of alcohol and nicotine, Nautilus claims that the product will actually help people quit smoking. “It can help you make changes in your lifestyle without having to walk out of the bar for a quick smoke to deal with sudden withdrawal symptoms,” the company said in a press release. “Over time, when you are more comfortable being a nonsmoker, the use of nicotine beer can be reduced and then stopped.”
Dateline: Pennsylvania—It's gross, but apparently it's profitable. Four used colonoscopes--devices used to examine the human colon--were recently stolen from a hospital. Authorities said the theft of the devices--worth an estimated $100,000--was probably driven by a large overseas market for secondhand equipment. “If you go to the web and type in ’used endoscopes' or ’used colonoscopes' you'll find dozens of suppliers selling used equipment,” Associated Press quoted a Pennsylvania State College police officer as saying. “It's kind of bizarre.”
Dateline: Georgia—A 61-year-old woman has been arrested and accused of assaulting an Atlanta police officer with her dinner. Beverly Anne Campbell was stopped by an officer when she was seen traveling the wrong way on a one-way street after leaving a community event. Campbell objected and tried to turn the crowd against the officer. When that didn't work, she allegedly threw a plate of chicken wings at him, hit him in the neck with a two-liter bottle of cola and then punched him in the face “several times, leaving visible injuries,” the warrant said.
Dateline: California—In an attempt to stem the tide of prison-related underwear theft, the Ventura Sheriff's Department has come up with a bright idea. Starting this fall, underwear handed out at the county jail will be dyed bright orange. The department estimates that it loses some $50,000 a year as inmates get out of jail, taking socks, underwear and T-shirts with them. “We just keep losing horrendous amounts of that property,” Kathy Kemp, chief deputy of the Sheriff's Department's detention services division told SFGate.com. It is believed that the orange underwear will now stand out when inmates return their prison-issued orange jumpsuits and change back into their civilian clothes.
Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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