Today's stories [6.9.09]
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On February 3, 1990, a Renton (Seattle area) man tried to commit
a robbery. This was probably his first attempt, as suggested by
his lack of a record of violent crime, and by his terminally stupid
1.The target was H&J Leather & Firearms, a gunshop;
2.The shop was full of customers, in a state where a substantial
fraction of the adult population is licensed to carry concealed
handguns in public places;
3.To enter the shop, he had to step around a marked King County
Police patrol car parked at the front door;
4.An officer in uniform was standing next to the counter, having
coffee before reporting to duty.
Upon seeing the officer, the would-be robber announced a holdup and
fired a few wild shots.
The officer and a clerk promptly returned fire, removing him from the
Several other customers also drew their guns, but didn't fire.
No one else was hurt.
Phone Won't Stop Ringing? -- Here's What You Do.
Leola Starling of Ribrock, Tenn., had a serious telephone problem. But
unlike most people she did something about it.
The brand-new $10 million Ribrock Plaza Motel opened nearby and had
acquired almost the same telephone number as Leola.
From the moment the motel opened, Leola was besieged by calls not for her.
Since she had the same phone number for years, she felt that she had a
case to persuade the motel management to change its number.
Naturally, the management refused, claiming that it could not change its
The phone company was not helpful, either. A number was a number, and just
because a customer was getting someone else's calls 24 hours a day didn't
make it responsible. After her pleas fell on deaf ears, Leola decided to
take matters into her own hands.
At 9 o'clock the phone rang. Someone from Memphis was calling the motel
and asked for a room for the following Tuesday. Leola said, "No problem.
How many nights?"
A few hours later Dallas checked in. A secretary wanted a suite with two
bedrooms for a week. Emboldened, Leola said the Presidential Suite on the
10th floor was available for $600 a night. The secretary said that she
would take it and asked if the hotel wanted a deposit. "No, that won't be
necessary," Leola said. "We trust you."
The next day was a busy one for Leola. In the morning, she booked an
electric appliance manufacturers' convention for Memorial Day weekend, a
college prom and a reunion of the 82nd Airborne veterans from World War
She turned on her answering machine during lunchtime so that she could
watch the O.J. Simpson trial, but her biggest challenge came in the
afternoon when a mother called to book the ballroom for her daughter's
wedding in June.
Leola assured the woman that it would be no problem and asked if she would
be providing the flowers or did she want the hotel to take care of it. The
mother said that she would prefer the hotel to handle the floral
arrangements. Then the question of valet parking came up. Once again Leola
was helpful. "There's no charge for valet parking, but we always recommend
that the client tips the drivers."
Within a few months, the Ribrock Plaza Motel was a disaster area.
People kept showing up for weddings, bar mitzvahs, and Sweet Sixteen
parties and were all told there were no such events.
Leola had her final revenge when she read in the local paper that the
motel might go bankrupt. Her phone rang, and an executive from Marriott
said, "We're prepared to offer you $200,000 for the motel."
Leola replied. "We'll take it, but only if you change the telephone
Watertown, New York:
It was eagle-eyed zookeepers who noticed first.
The DNA testing only proved what they already
The Thompson Park Zoo's American bald eagle breeding
program was going nowhere. Not with two males, anyway.
"We had our suspicions right away. The birds are
virtually the identical size," said Director
Glenn D. Dobrogosz, who laughed Tuesday about the
gender mix-up that provided a comical start to the
zoo's new eagle breeding program.
"It happens. Not a lot. But it happens," he said.
The two American bald eagles - supposedly a male and
female - arrived at the zoo last July from the Bird
Treatment and Learning Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
The two males became good buddies but zookeepers
quickly realized there would be no amorous flights
for these two, Dobrogosz said.
Because bald eagle males and females share the same
coloring characteristics, it is difficult to determine
gender by visual inspection. However, in most raptor
species, the female is slightly larger than the male,
Based on their size and behavior, the Alaska center
mistakenly thought it had sent a male and a female,
Dobrogosz said. It wasn't until the Thompson Park Zoo
took blood samples for DNA testing that it confirmed the
"Sure enough, they both were boys," he said.
Now that the confusion has been cleared up, zookeepers are
once again focused on the romancing.
One of the males is being sent to the Clinch Park Zoo in
Traverse City, Mich. Meanwhile, the Watertown zoo already
has received a new female from another raptor rehabilitation
center on Sitka Island in Alaska.
"We're positive this time," Dobrogosz said, heading off the
inevitable inquiry about the bird's gender.
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