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 V.15 No.21 | May 25 - 31, 2006 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: Scotland—Volunteers cleaning up the peak of Britain’s highest mountain were puzzled last week to come across a full-sized piano, abandoned near the 4,418-foot summit. The piano was recovered last weekend by 15 volunteers from the John Muir Trust, a conservation charity that owns the Scottish peak known as Ben Nevis. “It’s a 4,000-foot mountain. It’s very steep. It’s rough ground. ... To get a piano up there is pretty good going,” Nigel Hawkins, director of the John Muir Trust told AFP. He said it appeared to be an upright piano, with its cast-iron frame and strings intact. Unfortunately for music lovers, the keyboard was missing. The charity has put out a public appeal to find out how the piano went up the mountain and why. The only clue as to the instrument’s origin was an empty cookie wrapper found underneath it with a “best-before” date of December 1986. Some 120,000 people climb Ben Nevis every year.

Dateline: Thailand—Anupan Boonchuen, the director of a dog grooming school, has launched the world’s first Internet radio station for dogs. DogRadioThailand.com features barking DJs playing vocal and instrumental music around the clock. “I’ve noticed that dogs often respond to music,” Boonchuen told the Bangkok Post. “Some wag their tails. Some lift their heads while lying on the floor. At my grooming school we found that when we turned on the music, the dogs’ moods improved. They were more obedient and let us trim their hair [more] easily.” It is reported that 10 students from the dog grooming school have been hired to work as doggy DJs. “One of the main qualifications is that he or she must be good at barking,” said Boonchuen. “Because dogs are our listeners, the DJs may have to make different sounds, such a whining or barking, to match the mood of music they play.” In addition to Thai pop music, Boonchuen plans to expand the station’s programming. “At 9 a.m., we may have a dog greeting show, in which we’ll repeat ‘sawasdee’ [‘hello’] over and over. ... If we say ‘sawasdee’ in some houses, the dog may lift both paws in response. In some houses, the dog may lift only one paw. It depends on how the dog was trained.”

Dateline: Germany—Police are on the lookout for some thieves with a roller coaster in their backyard. According to reports, a thief or (more likely) thieves made off with the 20-ton Big Dipper, worth more than $20,000. The thrill park ride was stolen from a truck that had stopped in a parking garage in Bischofsheim while on its way to a nearby carnival. Local police officer Martin Gruber said, “In all my years on the job, I have never heard of a roller coaster being stolen. We’ve no idea what the thieves could possibly want with it, and are appealing to the public for help. The last thing we want is for amateurs to try putting it together.”

Dateline: Florida--A former gym teacher has had his teaching certificate revoked and has been given three years probation for taking bribes from his students. Terence Braxton pleaded guilty to felony bribery for taking money from students in exchange for letting them skip his gym class at Ernest Ward Middle School near Pensacola. Students who gave Braxton one dollar per day did not need to change into gym clothes or participate in the class. Braxton has been ordered to pay back the money he took from students. The 28-year-old said the loot-for-laziness scheme was “a mistake” and hopes to “get back to teaching” once his probation is over. Though his Florida certificate has been permanently revoked, Braxton could teach in another state.

Dateline: Maryland—Two teenagers have been charged with setting a series of fires in suburban Washington after bragging about the arson spree on MySpace.com. Fire officials said last Friday that the 17-year-old high school classmates were involved in 17 fires in Montgomery County. The teens face 22 charges, including two counts each of first-degree arson. Their names were not released because they were charged as juveniles. Stores, vehicles, a bowling alley and two school buses were set on fire between January 20 and April 16. Thanks to a tip from a MySpace user, investigators now have their work cut out for them. Not only did the boys brag about the crimes they committed, they also posted photographs and detailed descriptions on their MySpace accounts. “Whatever their motive is, they took the opportunity to set numerous fires,” county Fire Chief Thomas W. Carr, Jr. said. “The significant thing is they posted on the Internet and bragged about the fires, and that certainly allowed us to break the case.”

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

 
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