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 V.13 No.26 | June 24 - 30, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Poland—Plastic surgery: It's not just for movie stars anymore. The seaside town of Ustka is giving a makeover to its official mascot, the Ustka mermaid. The classical seafaring image, featured on the town's coat of arms, is used in tourism campaigns. City officials announced earlier this year that the mermaid's waist would be reduced and her bust enhanced in an attempt to lure tourists. An Ustka official says the breast enhancement will make the mermaid “more attractive and Ustka will gain publicity.”

Dateline: Oregon—Dr. Randall J. Smith, 50, advised a female patient at the Adventist Health Clinic-Rockwood in Gresham that the best way to alleviate her pelvic pain was to have sex with him. As if that weren't malpractice enough, the licensed osteopath then billed the Oregon Health Plan for the time he spent having intercourse with the woman. Smith will now spend two months in jail and 18 months on probation. Smith was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and pay $1,105 in fines by Multnomah County Circuit Judge Julie Frantz. On March 4, Smith voluntarily surrendered his medical license to the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners. Monty Knittel, a spokesman for Adventist Health, told The Oregonian newspaper that the hospital has fired Smith and reimbursed the Oregon Health Plan about $5,000 to cover the cost of Smith's “sessions.”

Dateline: California—A college student in his early 20s working at a furniture factory in Nevada City decided last Friday night to find out what would happen if he held a lighter to his pants, which were saturated in a highly flammable chemical. Surprisingly—at least to the employee—his pants burst into flames. Shortly thereafter, the building caught fire. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the blaze, which was reported at 11:26 p.m. at the Furniture by Thurston factory. “He put a lighter to his pants to see if they would ignite, an EMT told me,” said Dan Slayton, a Furniture by Thurston business manager. “It just baffles me.” The unnamed employee suffered minor burns to his legs and was taken to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. According to The Union newspaper, several area fire departments responded to the structure fire, which was under control in about 30 minutes. It is unclear at this point if the employee will retain his job.

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Australia—Last weekend, a pet corn snake managed to squeeze its way into its owner's wedding ring, which was left sitting on a table. The reptile, named Tango, got wedged with the jewelry around its waist. The frantic pet owner called up the local fire station in Gateshead and was told to go to the animal shelter in the nearby town of Felling and meet up with a fire crew. A spokesman for Tyne & Wear fire and rescue service told the Sydney Morning Herald, “The nearest surgery was in Felling. Firefighters waited at the veterinary surgery for the snake to be anaesthetized and removed the ring using cutters. The vet then administered oxygen to the snake.” Both ring and snake are recovering.

Dateline: Montana—This week's highway spillover story comes to us from Bozeman where a tractor-trailer overturned on a curve, dumping an estimated nine million angry honey bees into traffic. Driver Lane Miller, his arm seriously injured in the wreck, struggled to flee the rig after it overturned Monday in Bear Trap Canyon west of Bozeman. The truck slid across the highway before coming to a stop between guardrails. “I had to kick the windshield out of the front of the cab and the bees were on me from that moment,” Miller, 41, told the Associated Press. Miller eventually walked away from the crash and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for the arm injury and some 20 bee stings. The state road was closed for 14 hours as road crews and beekeepers cleaned up the 512 hives Miller was hauling from Idaho to North Dakota. “Everybody had literally thousands of bees on them, in their hats and on their suits,” said beekeeper Gary Clark, who counted about 60 stings of his own. “When we pulled the boxes out, big globs of them would fall on us.” At about 3 a.m. Tuesday, the wreck was hauled off and State Transportation Department employees were called in to pour sand over the pools of honey left behind.

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

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