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Odds & Ends 12/07
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Mommy claims Santa was a bad boy
OREM, Utah — It’s described as she-said, Santa-said. No matter who’s right, the Santa at University Mall has been replaced.
    A woman accused the mall’s Santa Claus of making an inappropriate comment to her teenage daughter last week.
    Mall officials ‘‘found that the claims of the mother ... differed considerably from those of Santa and the witnesses there,’’ general manager Rob Callas said.
    But to avoid any problems, the mall sent Santa packing and called in a replacement.
    Santa is always in the company of two other people when he greets children, Callas said.

The million-mile car  

      MILWAUKEE — As a traveling salesman, Peter Gilbert has put a few miles on his car — 1,001,385 miles, to be precise.
    It took the Glendale man 17 years to cross the million mile mark with his 1989 Saab 900 SPG. He recently donated the durable vehicle to the Wisconsin Automotive Museum after Saab verified the mileage.
    The transmission was rebuilt at 200,000 miles and the hood and a few other parts replaced after eight deer collisions, but otherwise it has original equipment.
    Gilbert bought the Saab for $29,000. It was his treat after a divorce, and he took meticulous care of it. He used premium, synthetic oil in oil changes, changed the tires every 45,000 miles and strictly followed the maintenance schedule.
    He drove the car seven days a week, racking up the miles as his work took him through rural Wisconsin.
    ‘‘When I hit 600,000 miles, the car still wasn’t burning oil,’’ Gilbert said. ‘‘That’s when I thought it could go a million miles.’’
    But Wisconsin’s harsh winters took a toll on the car. Its sporty exterior still looks good, but road salt has rusted its frame. Gilbert realized it might no longer be safe if he hit another deer or had a serious accident.
    ‘‘There was no point in driving the car any longer,’’ he said. ‘‘Even though it might have gone another million miles.’’
    He had it detailed and parked it at the Hartford museum, which houses a number of rare vehicles.
    Then Gilbert bought another Saab with fewer miles.

Picnic in a parking spot 

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — Charleston will not prosecute a group that recently fed a parking meter in the historic district, set up a table in the space and then ate pizza and drank nonalcoholic beer.
    The organizer of the party, Vince Graham, was ticketed for obstructing public ways, and had hoped a subsequent ‘‘trial of the century’’ could lead to more outdoor dining in the city.
    He had a court date last week but was told the city would not pursue the charge.
    Graham and others plan to meet with Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. next month to talk about ways of making the city more friendly for pedestrians.
    The party was inspired by similar recent events on the West Coast in which people took over parking spaces and turned them into temporary parks.
    ‘‘I think it would be great for city life if we had more outdoor dining experiences,’’ Graham said, suggesting the city could close some streets to vehicles one night a week.
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