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Odds & Ends 11/01

Counterfeiter missed the mark on this "Bill" 
BATESVILLE, Ark. — Police instantly knew this Bill wasn’t authentic.
    A man has been arrested for trying to use a $100 bill with no president’s portrait and the name of former President Clinton.
    The man, who has not been identified, was arrested Friday after trying to use the bill to buy cigarettes at a Batesville gas station.
    ‘‘The bill was unmistakably fake due to the fact that the ink was running on the bill, the president’s face was missing and for the president’s name, it had the name Clinton on it,’’ said Deputy Nathan Stephens.
    The sheriff’s office expects to file counterfeiting charges against the suspect, authorities said.
    ‘‘Of all the cases I’ve worked with phony money, this is the sorriest bill I’ve ever seen,’’ Lt. Brenda Bittle said.
  

Child finds a leggy surprise in her grapes
    TOPEKA, Kan. — The thing in the bag of black seedless grapes in Lori Warren’s refrigerator was dark and shiny, all right, but it had something grapes don’t: eight legs.
    Making the whole experience worse, the critter had the red, hourglass-shaped mark on its abdomen that helped confirm its identity as a black widow spider.
    Her 9-year-old daughter, Elysia Holland-Kyzer, discovered the spider Monday morning when she went looking in the refrigerator for butter for her toast. She yelled for her mother.
    ‘‘I’m the spider catcher in the family, and I’m not really afraid of those things,’’ Warren said.
    But the closer examination that turned up the black widow’s markings did give her a shiver, thinking of her children’s close calls.
    The grapes had been purchased at an area store by Warren’s mother, who lives in Ottawa. The two women called two area stores where the grapes could have come from to tell them about their find.
    The Warrens put their half-consumed bag of grapes into another plastic bag and then placed the whole thing in their garage. They weren’t certain what they would do with it, but Warren was fairly sure the family will stay away from grapes for now.
    ‘‘I don’t think Elysia will eat any for a while,’’ she said with a laugh.
   
The real "Rubber Band Man"

    EUGENE, Ore. — Steve Milton keeps springing back and springing back to rubber bands.
    Through concentration and perseverance, he has created a 3,300-pound ball comprised of rubber bands. His creation measures almost 5 feet tall and takes up half his two-car garage.
    Though it’s not official, the 26-year-old Eugene man believes he has broken the record for the heaviest such ball, eclipsing John Bain’s mark of 3,120 pounds.
    Milton has posted updates of his ball’s growing girth on his MySpace page. He’s also uploaded videos of the ball crushing things, such as when he used a forklift to drop the ball on an old van.
    Milton started building the ball last November. He bought rubber bands at retail stores and then started purchasing in bulk from the Pennsylvania-based Dykema Rubber Band Company.
    Milton, who wants to stretch the ball at least another 1,000 pounds, said the work isn’t all that safe. He wears gloves to avoid burning his hands from friction and learned to move when a band breaks.
    ‘‘If they snap they come off pretty fast,’’ he said. ‘‘They’ve given me welts before.’’
   
Oklahoma gets ready to start tattooing
   OKLAHOMA CITY — The law legalizing tattooing in Oklahoma goes into effect Wednesday and some people are already eager to roll up their sleeves.
    Tressa Madden, director of consumer protection at the state Department of Health, said her office has been swamped with inquiries about the licensing process. Oklahoma was the last state to legalize tattooing.
    ‘‘Build the rules, and they will come,’’ said Madden, whose department is in charge of licensing tattoo artists and tattoo establishments. ‘‘I try to return phone calls as fast as I can.’’
    George Stratton, owner of Cutting Edge Tattoo in Arkansas City, Kan., said about 30 percent of his customers are Oklahomans who cross the state border for a legal tattoo.
    He knows a portion of that business will slough off, but he predicted that many tattoo artists in Oklahoma won’t have the experience or the money to meet state licensing requirements.
    He said that if his business goes bad, ‘‘I’ll move to Oklahoma and still have a jump ahead.’’

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