News of the Weird

Lead Stories
*Can't hold it in: The school board in Durham, North Carolina, suspended a substitute teacher at Hillside High School in November after she urinated into a trash can during class, allegedly because of a medical condition. And fifth-grade teacher Dow Ooten, age 36, was suspended in Charleston, West Virginia, in December after he brought his soiled trousers to a school board meeting to show what can happen when the faculty restroom door is kept locked.

*Latest ear technology: In November police in Independence Township, Michigan, arrested a 45-year-old man and charged him with peeping through windows at the Clarkston Motor Inn. The arrest was based on the earprints he allegedly left on the windows. And one month later, in Vancouver, Washington, Judge Robert L. Harris ruled that the prosecutor could use an earprint found on the bedroom door of a murder victim in the trial of his suspected killer.

The Continuing Crisis
*According to a September report in Toronto's Globe and Mail, the University of Toronto's medical school employs actors and other people for $12 to $35 per hour as practice patients for students. Bob LeRoy, age 45, commands the top pay because he is a rectal-exam patient. Said LeRoy: "I always hope the student with the biggest finger goes first."

*A September story in London's Sunday Times described Venice, Italy, as a new trendy site for suicides of unhappy Europeans and Americans inspired by the movie Death in Venice. (About 50 people attempted suicide in the past year; all but a half-dozen were unsuccessful, usually because the canals into which they leaped are deceptively shallow.) And the San Francisco Examiner reported in September that eleven people in the previous eighteen months had rented handguns at local gun ranges and killed themselves on the premises.

*Students rioting in August at South Korea's Yonsei University apparently found weapons in short supply and wielded whatever was available. When police finally quashed the protest, the geology department faculty discovered that about 10,000 rare rocks, collected over 30 years and considered irreplaceable, were missing.

*In October Miss Canada International, twenty-year-old Danielle House, was removed from further competition after she was charged in St. John's, Newfoundland, with punching her ex-boyfriend's current girlfriend in a bar. House said she had been in counseling recently for "low self-esteem."

*In August a federal judge in Springfield, Missouri, dismissed the lawsuit of Jennifer Stocker Jessen, now age 24, who had claimed that repressed memories of childhood abuse by her step-grandfather returned to her in 1988. The memories returned, she said, when she hit an opposum with her car.

The Weirdo-American Community
*In September in East Orange, Vermont, Christie's auction house sold almost two million dollars' worth of cars (including 33 Stutz Bearcats) that had belonged to eccentrics A.K. Miller, who died at age 87 a few years ago, and his wife, Imogene, who died in 1996. The couple left millions more in gold and silver and other valuables but lived like paupers, sometimes eating dog food or bread made of flour they had swept off the floor. They shopped at yard sales and dressed in rags. As treasurer of his church, Mr. Miller had once refused to pay a small increase in electricity rates and so converted the entire church to kerosene lamps. The Millers paid property taxes but no others; the federal and state governments are now claiming $8.2 million.

-- By Chuck Shepherd

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Chuck Shepherd