Oddities News Archive - April 30, 2009

A Canadian city bus driver in Calgary is credited with saving a cowering young dog from circling coyotes by simply opening the bus door. Dawn Hagel said she was driving Tuesday when she spotted the 16-month-old Australian cattle dog cringing beneath a parked pickup truck at the side of the road and two coyotes circling it. Hagel, who owns two dogs herself, told the Calgary Sun she pulled alongside and opened the door. He was in the bus in a heartbeat -- he knew it was a much better fate, she said.


A Traffic Penalty Tribunal official in Britain says excuses offered in attempts to avoid fines range from acceptable to simply silly.

A warning submitted by a man in Hampton, Ga., regarding the use of a portable toilet has topped this year's Wacky Warning Label Contest, an event sponsor says. The Foundation for Fair Civil Justice said in a release that Hampton resident Steve Shiflett won the 2009 Wacky Warning competition by sending in a warning label attached to The Off-Road Commode. Not for use on moving vehicles, the label on the portable toilet, which can be attached to a vehicle's trailer hitch, reads. Other winning entries this year include a cereal bowl warning that urges adult supervision for use and a livestock castration ring product that insists the product only be used on animals. Bob Dorigo Jones, who created the annual contest, said such seemingly unnecessary labels are an indication of an ongoing economic trend. Once a year, millions of people around the world get a collective laugh from our winners, Jones said.

A Nebraska judge rejected a prisoner's request for a religious name-change because the government needs to keep track of him. Lancaster County District Judge Steven Burns wrote in his ruling that Jonathan Thomas, 23, said he wanted to change his name to Sinner Lawrence Bilskirnir, which he said has to do with the Norse religion, because he is a heathen and Thor is his 'high god,' the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star reported Thursday. Thomas is serving time in the Nebraska State Penitentiary for felony convictions of attempted burglary, possession of methamphetamine and theft by receiving stolen property.

An 85-year-old Pennsylvania woman said the man who stole her electric scooter told her he was taking it for an oil change and other repairs. Betty Keefer, 85, said the man showed up at her Greensburg, Penn., home March 11, said he was taking the black Sonic Pride scooter for repairs and promised to return the item within a week, WTAE-TV, Pittsburgh, reported Thursday. Keefer said she was somewhat suspicious of the man's claims but allowed him to take the scooter anyway. I had an idea he'd try to steal it.

A member of the British Parliament stirred controversy with a Twitter posting that jokingly blamed the swine flu on a Britain's Got Talent singer. Sion Simon, Labor Party member of Parliament for Birmingham Erdington and the country's minister for further education, joked on Twitter that the swine flu outbreak was tied to Susan Boyle's performance on Britain's Got Talent, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday. I'm not saying Susan Boyle caused swine flu.

A city councilor in Australia revealed she underwent a leg-lengthening surgery in Russia and wrote about the experience under a pseudonym. Hajnal Ban, 31, a member of the Logan City council, said she spent nine months in Russia undergoing the procedure, which involved breaking each of her legs in four places to grow a total 3.15 inches, The (Brisbane) Courier-Mail reported Thursday. Ban said she used the alias Sara Vornamen when she wrote a book about the experience, God Made Me Small, Surgery Made Me Tall. It's not an operation everyone will agree with -- there are some people who are just totally against cosmetic surgery, full stop, so I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, she said.

A British man said volunteers clearing graffiti inadvertently painted over a work by street artist Banksy that he was planning to sell for nearly $7,400. Julian Chatt said the painting of popular children's book character Paddington Bear with the caption Migration is not a crime on a wall he owns was a casualty of the volunteer graffiti cleanup effort in Glastonbury, England, The Guardian reported Thursday. I'd spoken to the town council in the past and asked them not to paint over the artwork, Chatt said to the newspaper.

A British consumer watchdog is warning eBay users about the dangers of a do-it-yourself Botox kit being sold on the site for $95. Consumer group Which? said the Botox kits, which are being offered by a seller in the United States, include needles, Botox powder -- which is made from toxic botulinum bacteria -- and a facial map showing users where to make the injections, the Daily Mail reported Thursday. It's easy to forget that Botox is actually a poison, which if injected in the wrong area could produce some shocking results, Which? computing editor Sarah Kidner said.

A British divorce judge ruling in a custody case quoted a famous poem about parenting that included a four-letter profanity beginning with f. Lord Justice Nicholas Wall said in granting custody to the mother of a 9-year-old boy -- a decision that overturned a lower court's ruling giving custody to the boy's grandparents -- that both the mother and father had come within a whisker of losing their rights as parents, The Sun reported Thursday. Wall said the boy had been harmed by the parents' ongoing mutual dislike and recriminations toward one another after their relationship ended. The judge quoted Philip Larkin's 1971 poem, This Be the Verse, saying: They (expletive) you up, your mum and dad.

Word of the Day
  • Growing in low tufty patches.
The word 'cespitose' comes from a Latin word meaning 'turf'.