Originally created 02/20/03

Odds and Ends



GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Christa Sorauf won't be stuck at home playing Solitaire. She's got a new deck of cards that she thinks is a surefire bet for meeting a potential mate.

While her friends were looking for love on the Internet, she created "52 Card Pick Up." Each card has a pickup line on the front and a space on the back to write a name, phone number and e-mail address.

The idea came to Sorauf and Lesley Johnson, now her business partner, from an afternoon of people-watching. A table of men sent drinks to a table of women, but the men never introduced themselves.

"They just kept sending these drinks over and the women kept drinking them, but the guys never went over there," said Sorauf, 34.

Sorauf and Johnson, 37, began brainstorming with some of the worst lines they had ever heard.

"That gave us the inspiration to do something better," Johnson said.

The cards sell for $6.95 a pack and come in four styles: the Classic Collection, a Babe Box of Really Good Lines, the Collegiate Collection and the Dude Deck.

The lines range from the innocent "my friend thinks you're cute" to "how about a shot?" to the more suggestive "boxers or briefs?"

"If one doesn't work, you've got 51 others," Johnson said.

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HICKORY, N.C. -- Two would-be thieves would be $500 wealthier if only they paid more attention to spelling.

Police say two men tried to pass a $498 counterfeit payroll check bearing the name, "Boryhill Furmiture" last week, but they were turned away by a grocery store office assistant who noticed the misspellings. The company's correct name is Broyhill Furniture.

Police were still searching for the suspects, but have arrested Kathy Elaine Gillman, 39, and her daughter Amanda Kaye Gillman, 18. The Ohio women are charged with aiding and abetting the obtaining of property by false pretense and possession of counterfeit checks.

The women followed the men after they left the store, police said. Police found 42 checks for $200 to $400 inside the women's car, along with a software program used to print checks, pages torn from a phone book and a handgun.

The checks were made out to two men, including one police believe is Kathy Gillman's ex-husband and Amanda's father. They were from businesses in Georgia, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Despite the spelling error, Hickory Police Capt. Steve Wright said the overall quality of the checks was impressive.

"There's a good possibility that if the name on the check had been spelled correctly, they would have gotten away with it," Wright said.

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- A haunted Statehouse?

Paranormal researchers who set up shop in the state Capitol in November have released findings that include a sighting of a specter in Reconstruction-era clothing sitting in the third chair in the third row of the old House chambers.

Patty Ann Wilson of the Ghost Research Foundation documented the finding.

"I knew if I looked directly at him, he would disappear," Wilson said. "He wasn't in any way aggressive or threatening or scary."

The investigators also have photos of floating orbs of energy and a recorded whisper.

Durham's Rhine Research Center, one of the world's oldest institutions of paranormal study, invited Wilson and other ghost hunters to investigate suspected area haunts last year.

With their infrared video cameras, electromagnetic field detectors and thermal probes, they found enough to make longtime Capitol staffers suspect there might be something to the tales they've swapped of floorboards creaking and heavy doors squeaking.

"I don't know that I would say I'm a ghost-believer at this point," said Capitol historian Raymond Beck, "but there is some fairly compelling evidence that there is something paranormal going on here."

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SEATTLE -- Police officer Jerry Hicklin was tired of catcalls like "get a real bike" as he rode his department-issued Kawasaki.

Now he's in hog heaven since the department's motorcycle unit switched to Harley-Davidson Road Kings with 1,450-cc engines. Seven of the new Harleys are in service and the rest are expected by this summer.

Seated on his new bike, Hicklin, a motorcycle officer since 1981, joked about "pigs on hogs" as a small crowd gathered to admire his new wheels.

"They're gorgeous, aren't they? Man!" Hicklin said. "I've been waiting 21 years for this."

The brass is happy, too.

Officials estimate the city will save $40,000 a year by leasing Harleys rather than buying Kawasakis, which typically were used for three years and then sold at auction.

Then there's the morale boost.

"It's kind of like we just gave them a big Christmas present," Assistant Police Chief Harry Bailey said.

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ROCK CITY, N.Y. -- You'll know you're in the upstate hamlet of Rock City when you get to the fork in the road. Really.

The 31-foot-high silver metal fork is the creation of local businessman Steve Schreiber.

He started off the year 2000 by planting the sculpture at the intersection of two roads in the tiny Hudson Valley community about 90 miles north of New York City.

The fork is made from forged scrap steel and it took Schreiber and some friends nine months to construct.

"I did it as a goof," he said. "I didn't think they would let me leave it there. Nobody has said anything."