Originally created 12/24/01

Odds and ends



PELHAM, Ga. -- Reinforcements were dispatched to Autry State Prison to quell a two-hour disturbance that may have been sparked by an inmate angry over the quality of a chicken dinner.

"It appears they were incited by one particular inmate who was complaining that his chicken was not thoroughly cooked," Scott Stallings, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Corrections, said Monday.

Stallings said the prison staff isolated the disgruntled inmates to one floor of a cellblock on Sunday night and locked down the prison's other 1,175 inmates.

During the dispute, the inmates damaged lights, broke off sprinkler heads, broke windows and set fire to mattresses, he said. Stallings estimated damages at less than $10,000.

The angry inmates refused to return to their cells until 36 tactical squad members entered the cellblock. No injuries were reported.

"It appears it was just a spontaneous thing," Stallings said. "It appears it was just his complaint about the chicken. But you'd be surprised how things we might consider insignificant on the outside can be a real problem in a prison setting. These are tough people. They're not in prison for making rational and evenhanded decisions."

An investigation will be launched, Stallings said.

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LAS VEGAS -- It was all in a darg's work for Brian Cappelletto, who is the newly crowned World Scrabble champion.

The Chicago options trader won the championship on Monday in Las Vegas thanks in part to his use of the 19-point Scottish word darg - a task or days' work.

Cappelletto, 32, dashed Montreal music professor Joel Wapnick's hopes for repeating as world champion, winning three games to one in the best-of-five finals.

Cappelletto, the 1998 U.S. national Scrabble champion scored 50 points with vozhd, a word for a supreme leader in Russia. He also scored 44 points with jerrid, a wooden javelin.

Cappelletto won $25,000 as champion of the biennial world event. The national championship also is held in alternating years. Wapnick, 55, won $10,000. The final game score was 447-338.

About 300 people watched the finals at the Venetian hotel-casino. Nearly 90 experts from 40 countries competed in 24 rounds over three days.

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Here's the ultimate in cow comfort: a bovine water bed.

Cow water beds are designed much like human water beds - the bed surrounds the cow in cushy softness while supporting it when it lies down. The idea is based on the belief that comfortable cows produce more milk.

"The stalls with the water beds fill up faster than the other stalls," said John Marshman of Chenango County, who has installed 75 water beds in his barn. "Cows are just like everybody else. When they figure out something is more comfortable, that's where they'll go."

Doug Ford, a sales representative at Fisher Farms in Lenox, said that when a cow gets up from a water bed, another cow immediately gets in and lies down.

"Sometimes, they'll stand there waiting for a cow to leave so they can get in on the water bed," he said last week.

The water beds are made by a company called Georgia Duck and sold through Relative Products LLC in Reedsburg, Wis. They have been sold in the United States for about three years.