Lead Story

Reuters News Service reported in December that a 72-year-old retired gardener in England was credited with self-diagnosing a tear in his bladder. The man urinated into a pot of soil, and eventually a tomato plant sprouted. Doctors said that that indicated a leakage of microscopic tomato seeds from his bowel into his bladder. They also said that a urine culture is the standard method to detect such a tear, though this was the first self-diagnosis they’d heard of.

Cliches Come to Life

In September in Toronto David Blake, 22, suffered a broken leg and hip and internal injuries when he jumped from a fifth-floor balcony. Blake had been naked with his girlfriend in her room in her family’s home when her father discovered them. He allegedly forced Blake at knife point onto the balcony and made him jump.

USA Today reported in October that Florida Wildlife Park officials, who are trying to get their Caribbean flamingos to breed, planned to set up mirrors around the birds. The officials believe flamingos are more sexually excitable if they’re in a group.

In December in Moscow, Idaho, 15 Earth First! members were found guilty of several trespassing-type misdemeanors related to their protests of logging activities in the Nez Perce National Forest. Federal judge Edward Lodge said he would suspend their prison sentences if they either got a job or went back to college.

In a report in the August Archives of Dermatology a 39-year-old Cleveland woman was reported to have the first adult case of “acquired uncombable hair”–permanently coarse, tangled hair. Her condition was believed to be a side effect of a diuretic.

In September inmates Willie James Wright and Albert Mathew escaped from the state prison in Rosharon, Texas, having disguised their break by making paper-mache heads with real hair and placing them on the pillows in their bunks. The ruse worked at the 10 PM bed check, but at 4:45 AM a guard realized something didn’t look right. The two were promptly captured.

The Dallas Morning News reported in September that a tornado near Saginaw, Texas, picked up James Davis’s four-pound Yorkshire terrier, Sadie, and carried it more than two miles before setting it down along a road in view of a passerby. The dog suffered only minor injuries.

The Associated Press reported in December that University of Wisconsin dairy geneticist Denny Funk believes that one reason midwest farmer’s milk production has fallen behind California’s is that midwest farmers have a fondness for keeping better-looking cows around even if they produce less milk.

Family Values

Ronald Raymond Carr, 37, was given a suspended sentence in Norwalk, California, in October. He’d been charged with furnishing drugs to a minor and had admitted giving his daughter methamphetamines as often as twice a day when she was 11, 12, and 13 so that he would have company while he did drugs.

In May in Lilburn, Georgia, Charles “Chip” Mize Jr. was arrested for the murder of his father after he allegedly pursued Charles Sr. into a locked bathroom by chopping through the door with an ax. According to a family friend, “Chip really seemed to worship his dad,” but relations had become strained when his father questioned whether he had actually enrolled in college as he said he had.

David S. Clemons, 22, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse in Durham, North Carolina, in November after he allegedly bit his 11-month-old baby on the cheek during a class in which a child-care professional was trying to teach parenting skills.

Woman’s Day magazine recently reported that, according to an official in an investigators’ trade association, the number of parents hiring private eyes to track their children’s whereabouts was up 25 percent over the previous year. The detectives tap phones, run background checks on the kids’ friends, and perform around-the-clock surveillance.

Michael Coddington, 34, was convicted in May in Detroit of raping a six-year-old relative. His twin brother, Mitchell, had been charged several months earlier with raping another six-year-old relative.

Creme de la Weird

The Saint Thomas Day Nursery in Saint Thomas, Ontario, was burglarized in November for at least the fourth time in five months by someone stealing dirty disposable diapers. The culprit broke a lock on an outside garbage bin and took only garbage bags containing the diapers.

I Don’t Think So

In November La Vonda Burnette was elected to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board after portraying herself as a 23-year-old single mother who’d worked her way through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After the election she admitted that she hadn’t attended UNC, but denied that she’d “misled” anyone. She said the public outrage about her case was “just a classic example of what happens [to a person who] isn’t a part of the status quo.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.