Update: The man noted in News of the Weird in 1996 for keeping an almost unbelievably detailed personal diary died in October at age 89. For 25 years, the Rev. Robert Shields of Dayton, Wash., had chronicled his life in five-minute segments of banalities, leaving 37 million words on paper filling 91 boxes. His self-described "uninhibited,"spontaneous" work was astonishing in its mundaneness.
Examples: Aug. 13, 1995, 8:40 a.m. "I filled the humidifying basin mounted over the Futura baseboard heater." 8:45 a.m.: I shaved twice with the Gillette Sensor blade [and] shaved my neck behind both ears, and crossways of my cheeks, too." July 25, 1993, 7 a.m.: "I cleaned out the tub and scraped my feet with my fingernails to remove layers of dead skin."
The great Texas outdoors
(1) In August, entomologists found a spider web in a state park about 45 miles east of Dallas, covering trees, shrubs and the ground along a 200-yard stretch. The originally white web had turned brownish because "millions" of mosquitoes had been trapped in it.
(2) In September, wildlife experts tried to assure the public that the jellylike blobs ("millions of tiny organisms known as zooids," wrote the Dallas Morning News) attached to trees and dock pilings along Grapevine Lake between Dallas and Fort Worth were harmless.
(3) The latest sighting of the legendary "chupacabra" (the mythical hairless, blood-sucking goat), near Cuero, Texas, in August, was determined in November to be that of a dead coyote.
In October, following 18 months of investigation, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission concluded that the state government requires too many reports (a total of more than 1,600). About one-fourth of them either were duplicative of others or were still required even though the receiving agency no longer exists or are dutifully prepared year after year even though it is evident that they go unread. The commission issued its findings in a 668-page report.
What goes around comes around: (1) Tajuan Bullock, 33, allegedly was caught in the act of burglarizing a home in Montgomery, Ala., in October, and, while the resident held him at gunpoint for police, he made Bullock clean up the big mess he had made when he was rummaging for valuables. (2) Police in Bakersfield, Calif., came to the aid of a man and a woman at the bottom of the Panorama Bluffs near town and told reporters later that the man had attempted to toss his girlfriend over the cliff but that she grabbed him, and the pair tumbled down 300 feet together (and that he was hurt worse than she).
Least competent people
The Providence (R.I.) Journal, reporting on a campaign by the area's legal immigrants this summer to apply for citizenship, selected Juan Garcia, 54, as typical of the community. Garcia said he decided to apply after being encouraged by this year's immigration-reform debate, adding that he had been in the United States legally since 1978, with permanent-resident status since 1985. According to the Journal, however, Garcia explained all of that "through a translator."
Ticketed for DWEC (driving while eating cereal): Four people were injured in Houston in October when a driver, eating a bowl of oatmeal, failed to stop for a red light and collided with a bus. (Three passengers were hurt in addition to the motorist, and witnesses said oatmeal was found all over the inside of the car, and also inside the bus and on the ground.) Two weeks earlier, in London, Ontario, a driver accidentally lost control of his car while eating cereal, drove through a grassy median and hit two oncoming cars (no serious injuries resulted).