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Odds & Ends 12/12

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Posted: December 11, 2006 6:23 p.m.
Updated: December 26, 2006 5:00 a.m.
Insurance company finally realizes one of its clients is not dead
BELLEVUE, Neb. — Margaret C. Morris and her insurance company now agree: She’s alive.
    Several months ago, her insurance company, Medicare or both dropped her coverage because they presumed the 95-year-old woman was dead.
    ‘‘It’s disgusting and it’s irritating and it’s frustrating, and if you can think of any other words, go ahead and use them,’’ Morris said. ‘‘And I’m not dead. I’m not even close to it.’’
    Morris’ daughter, Margaret Spring, said the problem started when she fired her mother’s hospice nurse. Spring thinks a hospice official checked the wrong box or typed in the wrong code when the agency was dismissed, making Medicare — and, later, her insurer — believe Morris was dead.
    She would not name the agency.
    ‘‘I just want her back among the living,’’ Spring said of her mother’s situation. ‘‘It’s not funny.’’
    Spring estimated that she has spent $1,500 on prescriptions for her mother that should have been paid by insurance.
    On Friday, United American Insurance Co., which handled Morris’ Medicare prescription coverage, checked with the regional Medicare office. It verified that Morris was indeed among the living.
    Morris’ coverage was reactivated, and the company told Spring that she would be reimbursed for the prescription expenses.

Town has a scheduled snow shower every evening

    MADRID, Spain — The last time it snowed in the sun-baked town of Lepe in southern Spain was in 1954. Now the stuff is falling every day — promptly at 8 p.m., for exactly 15 minutes — thanks to a mayor keen on concocting a white Christmas.
    A pair of cannons blasting frozen precipitate over the town square have proven such a hit in Lepe — a town of 22,000 better known for its beaches and lush crops of strawberries — that human and traffic gridlock ensue every evening when it is time to snow.
    ‘‘More than anything we are doing it for the younger people, who have never seen snow,’’ Mayor Manuel Andres Gonzalez said last week, according to the newspaper El Pais.
    The fake weather began Dec. 5 as part of Christmas festivities and is scheduled to last until Jan. 6.
    A torrential downpour of rain — the real kind — drenched Lepe on Dec. 5 as people gathered in the town square, jeopardizing their first taste of the cold and white, but the water let up just in time.
    ‘‘In the end we got lucky and the weather gave us a break,’’ Gonzalez said.

Missing flamingo found 600 miles away with a new friend  

    WICHITA, Kan. — A flamingo that escaped from the Sedgwick County Zoo has turned up 600 miles away at a national wildlife refuge in Texas and apparently has found a friend.
    The pale pink bird was one of two flamingos that fled the Kansas zoo in July 2005.
    ‘‘He’s found a wild Caribbean flamingo friend that is originally from Mexico but probably came up during the hurricanes,’’ said zoo spokeswoman Christan Baumer, referring to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
    Biologists who spotted the bird at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on Texas’ Gulf Coast identified it by its leg band, and zoo officials confirmed it as one of their missing flamingos.
    They decided to leave the flamingo in Texas for now.
    ‘‘Anything we do down there might be very disruptive to the waterfowl already down there,’’ said Joe Barkowski, the zoo’s curator of birds.
    Zoo flamingos’ feathers are clipped to keep the birds grounded, but last summer the zoo apparently missed clipping the feathers of the two that got away. When a big gust of wind came along, Baumer said, the birds discovered their feathers were long enough to fly.
    About half of the zoo’s 75 flamingos came from Africa in 2003. They were wild and accustomed to flying, so it’s not surprising they would take off on their own, Barkowski said.
    ‘‘The 600-mile journey it took to get to Aransas is kind of surprising,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re not seeing migrations of that distance a lot.’’
    Zoo officials said they haven’t heard what happened to the other flamingo that escaped.
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