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News Quirks (5/6/15) 

Curses, Foiled Again

Tony Jerome Torbert Jr., 20, attracted the attention of authorities in Brevard County, Fla., after he posted an ad on craigslist offering "Legit Counterfeit $$." Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant and seized a printer, a computer and counterfeit currency. (Florida Today)

Pain of Progress

A 29-year-old California man was diagnosed with a torn tendon in his thumb caused by playing Candy Crush Saga on his smartphone "all day for 6 to 8 weeks" with his left hand, according to a study reported in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. One of the authors, San Diego orthopedic surgeon Dr. Dori Cage, cautioned that the rise in the number of people with smartphones who spend lots of time texting or tapping on their cellphones or tablets has the potential to lead to a "texting thumb," a repetitive stress injury that affects the thumb and wrist. She said that people experiencing pain from texting might instead use voice control, such as Siri on an iPhone, or "actually pick up the phone and call somebody" to communicate. (U-T San Diego)

High on the Dial

Radio station KREL-AM in Colorado Springs, Colo., abandoned its unprofitable sports-talk format to become the nation's first radio station dedicated to marijuana programming. Its new call letters are KHIG. KHIG-AM airs three local shows: "Wake and Bake" from 7 to 9 a.m., "High Noon" from noon to 1 p.m. and "High Drive" from 5 to 7 p.m. It also broadcasts three hour-long newscasts from Los Angeles-based National Marijuana News Service and programming from Chicago-based RadioMD. Six local medical marijuana dispensaries signed up as advertisers. "I just saw a business opportunity," general manager Mike Knar said, noting that public response has been "amazing." (Colorado Springs's Gazette)

Numbers Racket

As mobile devices hog telephone numbers, new area codes created to meet mathematical demand are causing old ones to become status symbols for which some people are willing to pay. And others are selling. Ed Mance, who operates PhoneNumberGuy, buys numbers in bulk from companies that no longer need them. He sells them for between $299 and $799, although his biggest sale was a "nine-of-a-kind" number for $95,000. Mance notes that the area code most in demand is Los Angeles's 310, whose numbers are the hardest to secure. Many of Mance's customers are less interested in the area code than the numbers around them, including ones that spell out words. "HURT and PAIN are the two most in-demand numbers," Mance said, because they're coveted by personal-injury lawyers. (Washington Post)

Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Just months after the Sandy Hook massacre, the school district in Halfway, Ore., decided to stage a surprise "active shooter drill" at its elementary school on a day when only teachers were there. Linda McLean, 56, said a man dressed in a black hoodie and goggles burst into her classroom, aimed a pistol at her face and fired. "You're dead," he said, and left. Panic ensued as the gunman went from room to room, firing what turned out to be blanks. One teacher wet her pants. Teachers later learned the gunman was the district's safety officer and that officials had alerted law enforcement so they wouldn't respond to emergency calls from distressed teachers. Insisting that the incident caused her to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, McLean in April filed suit against Pine Eagle School District, the safety officer et al. (Portland's Oregonian)

Checks and Balances

As Americans write fewer checks (down 50 percent since 2000, according to the Federal Reserve), Google reported that searches for "how to write a check" are five times more prevalent than 10 years ago. Pennsylvania leads the nation in such searches, followed by Delaware, New York and Hawaii. Even with the decline of checks in favor of electronic and card payments, which have tripled since 2000, the Federal Reserve said Americans are writing 18.3 billion checks per year. (Washington Post

All Hands on Deck

Hoping to relieve traffic congestion in Washington's Puget Sound area, state Rep. Jesse Young proposed using decommissioned Navy aircraft carriers to form a 3,700-foot-long bridge linking Bremerton and Port Orchard. "I know that people from around the world would come to drive across the deck of an aircraft carrier bridge, No. 1," Young explained. "No. 2, it's the right thing to do, from my standpoint, because this is giving testimony and a legacy memorial to our greatest generation." (Britain's Daily Mail)

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet is the author of the syndicated column "News Quirks," which appears weekly in Seven Days.

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