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Curses, Foiled Again When a man ordered a teller at a bank in Winslow Township, N.J., to hand over the money, she locked her cash drawer and walked away. The Philadelphia Daily News reported that the frustrated thief yelled at her, but she ignored him and alerted a coworker, who activated the silent alarm. The would-be robber left empty-handed.

• Police in Monroe, La., said Clifton C. Wright, 44, tried to buy 50 cellphones from a Minnesota distributor by using a forged cashier’s check but aroused suspicion by misspelling “cashier’s” as “cahier’s.” The Monroe News-Star reported the suspect also used the FBI office in Monroe as the delivery address, which is where police apprehended him when he met the delivery truck outside the bureau to intercept the shipment.

• Guards caught Bobby Finley, 20, using bolt cutters to get through the chain-link fence that surrounds the jail in Miller County, Ark. He wasn’t escaping, however, but trying to break into the jail to sell drugs and tobacco to prisoners. State Trooper Scott Clark told the Texarkana Gazette the case was the first one he’d worked “where somebody went to so much trouble to remove an obstacle so they could bring contraband into the jail.”

Second-Amendment Follies A 37-year-old security guard in Glendale, Ariz., was getting ready to leave for work, when, according to police official Tara Simonson, he tried to place his gun in a holster in the small of his back and accidentally shot himself in the buttocks.

Maryland Getaways After the Maryland Zoo opened its new $500,000 escape-proof prairie-dog habitat, half the rodents inside needed just 10 minutes to figure out how to bypass the aircraft wire, poured concrete and slick plastic walls. None escaped, zookeepers told the Baltimore Sun, but they managed to find every weakness in the enclosure and jump and climb over the walls, sending workers scrambling to plug escape routes by adjusting the wire fencing and installing more slippery plastic on the walls. “They find all the weak spots and exploit them,” zoo Chief Executive Officer Karl Kranz said.

• The day after officials opened the New Beginnings Youth Center in Laurel, Md., hailing the $45 million juvenile facility as an “antiprison,” devoid of customary razor-wire fencing, an inmate scaled a fence and escaped. He was quickly recaptured, the Washington Post reported, but Vincent N. Schiraldi, director of the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, who at first said he would place prickly shrubbery near the fence to discourage further attempts, decided to add razor wire.

Incendiary Devices A man in his late 50s or early 60s was seriously burned when he used a cordless drill to puncture a spray paint can. Fire officials in Spokane, Wash., told the Spokesman-Review the contents of the pressurized can released suddenly, and a spark from the drill ignited a flash fire, which burned the man’s face.

• An unidentified man in Sheboygan, Wis., was injured when his garage caught fire after he tried to use a shop vac to siphon gasoline from a boat gas tank and, fire official Joel Daum told the Sheboygan Press, “it must have ignited from a spark.” Flames engulfed the garage and caused minor damage to two neighboring garages.

Exceptions Disprove the Rule The British government has directed schoolteachers not to require pupils to learn the spelling rule “i before e, except after c,” because there are too many exceptions. “It is not worth teaching,” says the government document “Support for Spelling,” which is being sent to thousands of primary schools. Jack Bovill of the Spelling Society, which advocates simplified spelling, said he agreed with the decision, but supporters said the rule has merit because it’s one of the few that most people remember.

Father and Son Disunion When Andrew Mizsak of Bedford, Ohio, ordered his son, Andrew Jr., to clean up his room, the son became angry, raised his fist at the father and threw a plate of food at him across the kitchen table. The father called police, who reported, “Andrew was sent to his room to clean it. He was crying uncontrollably and stated he would comply.” Andrew Mizsak Jr., who lives rent free with his parents, is 28 and a member of the Bedford School Board. His mother, Paula, is a Bedford councilwoman. Andrew Mizsak Sr. told Cleveland’s Plain Dealer he “overreacted” by calling 911 and wouldn’t press charges because “I don’t want to ruin his political career,” but after other school board members heard of the incident, they voted to strip Junior of some of his duties.

The Blame Game A British Columbia volunteer search-and-rescue unit announced it is suspending service because a lost skier filed a lawsuit blaming it for taking too long to find him and his wife after they got lost in the wilderness. Gilles Blackburn said the Golden and District Search and Rescue (GADSAR), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Kicking Horse Resort didn’t do enough to rescue him and Marie-Josee Fortin, 44, who died of hypothermia after seven days, two days before rescuers found them. GADSAR’s president, Joel Jackson, said the group wouldn’t resume operations until the province provides legal coverage against actions such as Blackburn’s.

• District of Columbia Council member Jim Graham blamed neighborhood crime on pizza slices. Acknowledging that pizzerias that stay open until 4:30 a.m. are popular and operating legally, Graham said they nevertheless have become a nuisance “in terms of music, in terms of letting people hang out and also in terms of tolerating a certain level of violence.” Graham said he is drafting legislation to crack down on late sales.

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Roland Sweet

Roland Sweet was the author of a syndicated column called "News Quirks," which appeared weekly in Seven Days.


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