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Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

Feb. 21, 2013
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Crazy Kids

An estimated 3.2 million kids under 13 take mixed-martial arts classes, training to administer beat-downs modeled after the adults' Ultimate Fighting Championships, according to a January report in ESPN magazine, which profiled the swaggering, Mohawked Derek "Crazy" Rayfield, 11, and the meek, doll-clutching fighting machine, Regina "The Black Widow" Awana, 7. Kids under age 12 fight each other without regard to gender, and blows above the collarbone are always prohibited (along with attacks on the groin, kidneys and back). The Black Widow won her match in less than a minute via arm-bar submission. Parental involvement appears to be of two types: either fear of their child getting hurt or encouragement to be meaner.

The Continuing Crisis

  • Breaking Bad (and Quickly!): Tyrone Harris, 26, reported for his first shift at Dunkin' Donuts in Morristown, N.J., in January and received his name tag. Seven minutes later, according to police, he was on his way out the door with around $2,000 from his supervisor's desk. (Apparently, the supervisor had opened his drawer a little too far when reaching for the name tag, giving Harris a glimpse of the cash.)

  • Medium-Tech Warfare: Video transmissions from drone aircraft rose stiflingly to more than 300,000 hours last year (compared to 4,806 in 2001). With input expected to grow even more, Air Force officials acknowledged in December seeking advice from a private-sector company experienced in handling massive amounts of video: ESPN.

  • Dog trainer Mark Vette showed off his best work in Auckland, New Zealand, in December: dogs driving a Cooper Mini on a closed course. Using knobs fitted to the dogs' reach, Vette taught mixed-breed rescue dogs "Monty" and "Porter" 10 discrete actions, including handling the starter, steering wheel, gearshift, and brake and gas pedals, and then put them behind the wheel on live television. Monty handled the straightaway flawlessly, but Porter, assigned to steer around a bend, ran off the road.

Bright Ideas

  • Stress Relief for Students: (1) In November, students at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, ordered three therapy dogs and set up a room for "super stressed" final-exam studiers. The dogs typically are loaned to hospital patients and senior citizens. (2) In December, Cornell University staff installed a patch of grass inside the Olin Library (trucked in from the Adirondack mountains) because, said an employee, the sight of it has a "cognitive relaxing effect."

  • Jorge Sanchez, 35, was arrested in Burbank, Calif., in February after walking into a Costco store, brazenly stuffing 24 quart cans of motor oil under his clothing (some affixed with bungee cords), and heading for the exit. A security guard noticed him, but Sanchez fled and actually outran the guard (though some of his cargo came loose). Still carrying 15 cans, he made it eight blocks before police overtook him. Sanchez said he services cars for a living and that motor oil prices were just too high.

Readers' Choice

  • Sophie Laboissonniere pleaded guilty in January to participating in the 2011 street riot in Vancouver, British Columbia, as part of a crowd that broke into a drugstore following the hometown Canucks' loss in the Stanley Cup finals. Months before the riot, in the Miss Coastal Vancouver beauty pageant, she had been voted Miss Congeniality.

  • On Nov. 4, "Holly"—Jacob and Bonnie Richter's 4-year-old cat—fled the couple's motor home (apparently frightened by fireworks) parked at the Daytona International Speedway and did not return. Searches were futile, and the Richters drove home to Palm Beach Gardens, about 190 miles away. Two months later, Holly appeared, disheveled with paws rubbed raw, about a mile from the Richters' home, and the finder returned her to the Richters based on Holly's microchip ID.          
©2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD       


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