Originally created 07/01/03

Odds and Ends



AUBURN, Ala. -- A promotion intended to eliminate headaches quickly created a big one at Auburn University.

Ingram Hall, the school's central business office, was evacuated for about 45 minutes Friday after an employee opened an envelope and found a white powdery substance, Auburn spokesman Bob Lowry said.

The employee called campus police, who then evacuated the building and had an environmental team examine the substance. Lowry could not estimate how many employees were evacuated.

The substance turned out to be crushed Tylenol.

It was part of a promotional mailing from Madison, Wis.-based Alliant Energy Co. The envelope included a brochure asking the question, "Are energy and infrastructure concerns giving you a headache?" with two Tylenol caplets attached.

The brochure went on to invite the recipients to visit Alliant's booth at an upcoming conference to see if the company could ease those pains.

"We first became aware Wednesday that some of those tablets were getting crushed in the mail," Alliant spokesman Chris Schoenherr said.

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Stephen Feist threw on his Grateful Dead T-shirt, slipped on some sandals, picked up his Martin guitar and went down in the record books.

Feist strummed along to Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" with 519 other guitarists Sunday in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square in what organizers said was the largest guitar band ever.

Standing in the sun in shorts and tie-dye shirts, the musicians plucked, strummed, tapped their feet and sang verses from the iconic 1940 American folk ballad.

Their hourlong performance set the record for the largest guitar band playing for the longest period of time, according to Steve Einhorn, a Portland music store owner and organizer.

But the claim came with a caveat: The guitarists couldn't help but set the record, Einhorn said, because there was no record. At least that's according to a letter from the Guiness Book of World Records.

Einhorn said the Guinness Book agreed to enshrine Feist and his big band as the record-setters after it received documentation of the jam.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Feist said, strumming his Martin in the designated key of D. "For a guitar player, who could not come and see all these other guitar players."

Einhorn said he got the idea after a similar attempt last summer in Woodstock, N.Y., failed for lack of publicity.

Only acoustic guitars or unplugged electric guitars qualified; ukuleles, banjoes, fiddles or mandolins did not.

Musicians paid $10 to join. The money benefited Sisters of the Road Cafe, a Portland restaurant that employs and feeds homeless women.

* * * *

AUBURN, Ala. -- A promotion intended to eliminate headaches quickly created a big one at Auburn University.

Ingram Hall, the school's central business office, was evacuated for about 45 minutes Friday after an employee opened an envelope and found a white powdery substance, Auburn spokesman Bob Lowry said.

The employee called campus police, who then evacuated the building and had an environmental team examine the substance. Lowry could not estimate how many employees were evacuated.

The substance turned out to be crushed Tylenol.

It was part of a promotional mailing from Iowa-based Alliant Energy Company. The envelope included a brochure asking the question, "Are energy and infrastructure concerns giving you a headache?" with two Tylenol caplets attached.

The brochure went on to invite the recipients to visit Alliant's booth at an upcoming conference to see if the company could ease those pains.

"We first became aware Wednesday that some of those tablets were getting crushed in the mail," Alliant spokesman Chris Schoenherr said.

* * * *

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- Annie Tacha, 10, is organizing bake sales, car washes and loose-change collections to help buy a new police dog for the Hall County Sheriff's Department.

She's also trying to raise enough to buy a doggie-sized bulletproof vest.

About $5,000 will be needed to buy the dog and $1,000 for the vest.

"It's my goal to raise as much money as I can by the end of the summer because it will be harder when I'm in school," Annie said.

Annie initially intended to raise money only for the vest, after seeing a New Jersey girl do so on a recent TV show. But she soon learned Hall County's lone police dog - an 8-year-old German shepherd named Blix - was diagnosed with cancer. That prompted her to step up her efforts.

"This was a godsend," Chief Deputy Sheriff Chris Rea said. "I told Annie she's not just doing a huge service for the Hall County Sheriff's Department, but for the community and surrounding communities."

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BARCELONA, Spain -- About 5,000 bikers on Harley-Davidsons rumbled through this cosmopolitan Mediterranean city, celebrating the company's 100th birthday and showing that the quintessential American motorcycle is making inroads in the land of BMW and Ducati.

"Harleys are obviously an American tradition, but the brand's values - enjoying yourself, having fun and being free - are international," said Tony Marris, 53, an accountant from Worcester, England.

"I'm your typical back-to-biking story. I used to ride years ago, and finally bought my Harley about four years back," he added. "Thirty thousand miles later, I'm loving it even more. It's taught me the importance of having fun in life."

Waves of Harleys - Sportsters and Dyna Glides, new bikes and classics, standard and custom-made - turned Barcelona briefly into a sea of polished chrome and silver-studded leather.

Flags from Harley clubs in Germany, Iceland, France, Ireland and Spain fluttered behind the riders. Some smoked cigars, more than a few had gray hair, others had children in tow.

"I just love riding my bike," said American Rob Hodges, 39, who traveled four days from Aviano Air Force Base in Italy with his wife and a friend to participate in the weekend festival. "The best part so far has been the trip down."

The festival included stunt shows, rock concerts and exhibitions of Harley models. The highlight was Sunday's parade.