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Odds & Ends  The Associated Press

December 15, 2018 - December 21, 2018

(Brad Tonner via AP)

Beloved gift shop turtle celebrates
50th birthday party

Bristol, N.H. (AP) - A turtle given to a bedridden little boy in New Hampshire back in 1968 celebrated her 50th birthday with party hats, a sheet cake with the right number of candles and many well-wishers. Diane the Turtle was given to Jim Tonner when he was 12 and being treated for hip arthritis at his home in Braintree, Massachusetts. Years later, Jim, and his twin brother, Brad Tonner, opened a gift shop in Bristol, New Hampshire, which became Diane’s home. Her tank is surrounded by photos of store visitors. On Saturday, the store was crowded with visitors singing “Happy Birthday” to Diane, who wore a tiny party hat. “Another animal might put their head back in their shell,” Jim Tonner said Monday. “Her head went straight out. It’s one of the funniest things you’ve ever seen.” The brothers have written and illustrated books about Diane and set up a turtle webcam in their shop. Tonner said when he was a child, turtles like Diane were popular pets, but many didn’t live that long. That’s why she’s so unusual, he said. Today, the 4-pound turtle is thriving. Her favorite foods are strawberries and romaine lettuce. But don’t worry about the ban on that salad green; Tonner grows his own romaine. “That’s why she’s 50 years old,” Tonner said with a laugh.

Jury rules napkin promise must be honored in news site case

Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - An Alaska jury has ordered the buyer of a news website to make good on a payment promise she had scrawled on a cocktail napkin. The Anchorage Daily News reports that jurors ordered Alice Rogoff to pay more than $850,000 to Tony Hopfinger. Rogoff purchased a majority stake in the Alaska Dispatch website from Hopfinger in 2009. Her company bought the Anchorage Daily News in 2014 and merged the businesses. Hopfinger sued Rogoff, claiming she failed to pay him $100,000 annually for 10 years as promised in a note on the cocktail napkin. Rogoff’s attorney argued that terms were stated to commit Hopfinger to work for a decade and that he deserved nothing when he left.

Royal Mail delivers: Postman,
can you take this to heaven?

London (AP) - A 7-year-old Scottish boy who sent a birthday card to his father in heaven has received a heart-warming reply. A Royal Mail official responded to Jase Hyndman after seeing the card addressed: “Mr. Postman, Can you take this to heaven for my dad’s birthday.” The Royal Mail’s Sean Milligan wrote back, saying, “This was a difficult challenge avoiding stars and other galactic objects on route to heaven. However, please be assured that this particular important item of mail has been delivered.” Jase’s mother, Teri Copland, posted images of the letters on Facebook, which have been shared more than 260,000 times. Copland says, “I actually cannot state how emotional he is knowing his dad got the card. ... You’ve just restored my faith in humanity.”

Saving Clark’s neck? Panic
at ‘Lampoon’s Christmas’ display

Austin, Texas (AP) - A holiday display meant to re-create a scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” looked a little too real and caused a veteran to spring into action. The Heerlein family placed a dummy representing Clark Griswold dangling from the gutter of their Austin, Texas, home, with a ladder tipping beneath him. A veteran passing by thought it was the real thing and wrestled the ladder up while shouting, “Can you reach it?” KVUE-TV reports the man called police, who arrived and advised the family they were getting calls about the display. They have since put up a sign that says “Clark G is part of our Christmas display please do not call 911.”

December 1, 2018 - December 7, 2018

(Hugh Carey/Summit Daily News via AP)

Giant wooden troll removed in Colorado could get new home

Breckenridge, Colo. (AP) - A huge wooden troll that proved to be too popular in a Colorado ski resort town is gone, but it’s possible the artwork could find another home. Workers in Breckenridge used a chainsaw and backhoe to remove the 15-foot (4.5 meter) sculpture known as Isak Heartstone. The Summit Daily News reports that most of the work created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo was discarded or recycled but that some pieces were saved and put in storage in hopes of installing the sculpture somewhere else. Town manager Rick Holman said officials are talking to Dambo and considering some possibilities but said nothing was imminent. The work was installed on a hiking trail for a summer arts festival. Since then, throngs of troll-seekers have caused problems for nearby homeowners.

Minnesota baby born on Nov. 11 at 11:11 p.m.

St. Paul, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota baby girl was born on Veterans Day - the 11th day of the 11th month - at 11:11 p.m. Erin and Mike Potts of Hugo, Minnesota, welcomed their first child on the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. The girl was born at The Mother Baby Center in St. Paul. WCCO-TV reports the new mom said it was a long labor, from about 5 a.m. until 11 p.m., “but the delivery went smoothly.” The parents did not yet have a name for their new daughter.

Wildlife officials seize mountain lion kitten fed bratwurst

Walsenburg, Colo. (AP) - Wildlife officials who seized a mountain lion kitten from a southern Colorado home say the feline fell ill after the residents fed it bratwurst. Travis Sauder with Colorado Parks and Wildlife says the kitten appeared to be in good health otherwise and was sent to a wildlife rehabilitation center. The Walsenburg residents posted photos on social media showing the kitten in a cage and describing how they found it in a snowbank after a snowplow passed by. They also said they were allowing it to “thaw out.” Sauder says residents should leave wildlife alone and that mountain lions can handle cold weather. The kitten, which is only a few months old, was kept too long to be returned to the area to be reunited with its mother.

Expert: Rare snake with 2 heads found in Virginia has died

Waynesboro, Va. (AP) - A wildlife expert says a rare, two-headed snake found several months ago in Virginia near the nation’s capital has died. The Washington Post reports state herpetologist JD Kleopfer said in a Facebook post this week that the snake had died. He says it passed away peacefully last week for no apparent reason, and was discovered dead one morning. The Copperhead snake was found in a northern Virginia neighborhood in September. The Wildlife Center of Virginia previously said in a statement that an examination of the reptile found it had two tracheas and two esophagi, but shared one heart and a set of lungs. Biologists believe both heads were capable of biting and distributing venom. Kleopfer says two-headed snakes are rare because they don’t live long in the wild.

Romanian man returns 95,000 euros found in secondhand cupboard

Bucharest, Romania (AP) - A Romanian man was surprised to find 95,000 euros stashed inside a secondhand cupboard he’d bought - and promptly returned the money. Adela Stanici told The Associated Press that her husband, a construction worker, had recently bought the cupboard from a popular online site. Days later, as she was making dinner, husband Samuel yelled: “come and see what I’ve found,” a metal box in the cupboard stuffed with 500-euro notes. She said the pair counted the money together: “We were shocked. We couldn’t sleep all night. We thought it might be a trap, a setup, and we knew we had to get the money back to where it came from,” the mother of four said by telephone. The husband traveled from their home, in the western village of Bichigi, to the city where the owner lived. The man revealed the cupboard had belonged to his recently deceased father. Stanici said the man, who requested anonymity, “had no idea” about the money. He traveled to their village without knowing how much money there was. “When he saw (it), he couldn’t believe it.” She said he rewarded them for their honesty, without saying how much he gave them.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

December 15, 2018 - December 21, 2018

December 1, 2018 - December 7, 2018