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News of the Weird

  • Article by: CHUCK SHEPHERD
  • October 26, 2012 - 1:46 PM

Among the least important effects of the summer's drought in the Midwest: Officials overseeing the annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw said there would be fewer high-quality cow patties. Said chairperson Ellen Paulson: "When it's hot, the cows don't eat as much. And what was produced, they just dried up too quick." A few patties had been saved from the 2011 competition, but, she said, "It's not like you can go out and buy them."

Great taste in art!

For September's Digital Design Weekend at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, artists Michiko Nitta and Michael Burton commissioned soprano Louise Ashcroft to sing, altering pitch and volume while wearing a face mask made of algae. According to the artists, since algae's growth changes with the amount and quality of carbon dioxide it receives, Ashcroft's voice, blowing CO2 against the algae, should cause variation of the algae's "taste" as to bitterness or sweetness. After the performance, the audience sampled the algae at various stages and apparently agreed. The artists said they were demonstrating how biotechnology could transform organisms.

Pricey anti-venom

Scorpion anti-venom made in Mexico sells there for about $100 a dose, but for a while over the past year, the going rate in the emergency room of the Chandler (Ariz.) Regional Medical Center was $39,652 a dose. Marcie Edmonds, who was stung while opening a box of air-conditioner filters in June, received two doses by IV and was released after three hours to later find a co-pay bill of $25,537 awaiting her (with her Humana plan picking up $57,509), according to the Arizona Republic newspaper. The Republic found that Arizona hospitals retailed the anti-venom for between $7,900 and $12,467 per dose -- except for Chandler. Following the newspaper's report, Chandler decided to re-price the venom at $8,000 a dose, thus eating a $31,652 loss.

The latest for pets

Spending on health care for pets is rising, as companion animals are treated more like family members. In Australia, veterinarians who provide dental services told Queensland's Sunday Mail in August that they have even begun to see clients demanding cosmetic dental work -- including orthodontic braces to create improved smiles and other mouth work to give dogs "kissable breath."

Entrepreneurial spirit

Jordan and Bryan Silverman's start-up venture, Star Toilet Paper, distributes rolls to public restrooms in restaurants, stadiums and other locations absolutely free -- because the brothers have sold ads on each sheet. (Company slogan: "Don't rush. Look before you flush.") Jordan told the Detroit Free Press in August that the company has enlisted 50 advertisers so far.

Caught in the act

(1) Kalpeshkumar Patel, 40, failed in June to carry out his longstanding threat to burn down the Chevron station in High Springs, Fla. After dousing his car with gasoline in front of the store, he realized he had no lighter or matches and had to ask several customers, without success, to help him out. He was arrested before he could do any damage. (2) Ignatius "Michael" Pollara, 46, and his mother, 70, were arrested following what police said was a 10-year shoplifting spree that might have spanned 50 states. They were nabbed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because, according to sheriff's Sgt. Rich Rossman, Pollara could not resist using a "rewards" card traced to him, which he used to get credit for some of the purchases he had switched for more expensive items.

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