Originally created 08/08/03

Odds and Ends



ST. LOUIS -- Cast into a city gas chamber to be euthanized with other unwanted or unclaimed dogs, it appeared the roughly year-old Basenji mix had simply run out of luck - and time.

But this canine had other ideas.

When the death chamber's door swung open Monday, the dog now dubbed Quentin - for California's forbidding San Quentin State Prison - stood very much alive, his tail and tongue wagging.

Animal-control supervisor Rosemary Ficken had never seen such a survivor, and she didn't have the nerve to slam the door shut again.

This 30-pound animal, she believed, beat the odds and should live on.

"She told me, 'Please, take him. I don't have the heart to put him back in there and re-gas him,"' said Randy Grim, founder and head of Stray Rescue of St. Louis, the charitable shelter that took in the dog before taking the animal's story public.

Quentin's ordeal was played and replayed Wednesday on local TV stations, drawing people looking to adopt him.

"To me, it's a miracle or divine intervention," Grim said. "I can't help but think he's here to serve a higher purpose. This case blew me away. This is amazing."

On Wednesday, Quentin was a little malnourished but "in very good condition," Grim said. He was being checked for heartworm and other maladies by a veterinarian.

"You can tell he's really digging it," Grim said. "He has a bed, love, food and water."

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BURLINGTON, Iowa -- Peggy McCormally didn't want her family to throw her an 80th birthday bash. But she did request a major celebration in her honor: a traditional Irish wake.

"When my husband died, I thought it was such a shame he couldn't enjoy the great party we had to celebrate his life," she said.

McCormally's oldest son, Sean, said his mother wouldn't accept any celebration but the wake.

"Who are we to argue?" he said.

McCormally joked that by attending her own wake, she also would be able to decide if her will should be changed.

"Anyone who didn't come is in big trouble," she laughed.

Only two of her 11 grandchildren didn't make the Saturday wake, and they were forgiven because one couldn't get out of work and the other had just gotten married.

McCormally received a quilt made by her children and grandchildren and an hour-long prayer service in which family and friends said all the nice things about her they otherwise might have waited to share at her funeral.

Her husband, John, the editor and publisher of The Hawk Eye from 1965 to 1979, died in 1993.

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Best to keep your mouth shut. Splitting your tongue without a doctor or a dentist could land you in jail in Illinois.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Wednesday signed into law a measure that restricts the practice of tongue-splitting.

For those who are bored with simple piercings and tattoos, cutting the tongue to make it forked may be the next step.

Some who have had the procedure done say they do it for shock value, while others say it's a spiritual experience.

The legislation would bar anyone but doctors and dentists from performing the procedure. Offenders could face up to a year in jail.

But supporters of the law say the practice is dangerous and could lead to infection.

Rep. David Miller, a Chicago Democrat and a dentist, predicted few professionals will perform tongue-splitting. He said he understands the value of individual rights but thinks many people don't understand the risks, so officials will choose "safety over cosmetics."

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A Web site that spoofs the computer programming industry by offering chimpanzees and baboons to work for as little as 50 cents an hour has taken its monkey business too far, says the Iowa Primate Learning Sanctuary.

The Web site touts a fictitious Des Moines-based company called Primate Programming Inc., which it says was based on work done at the sanctuary showing apes can learn language and perform complex cognitive tasks.

Officials at the research center were not amused and asked the Web site's developer, Dan Mezick, to remove all references to the sanctuary from his site.

The sanctuary is being built on a 137-acre site near the Des Moines River. Founder Ted Townsend has said it will be a world-class research center where scientists can study ape culture, including the way apes learn and communicate.

"We're putting together a team of world-renowned scientists who have devoted their lives to primate learning," said Al Setka, sanctuary spokesman. "Our mission is sanctuary, research and education. We take that very seriously, and we don't want there to be any confusion."

Mezick, president of New Technology Solutions, a North Haven, Conn., company that trains computer programmers, said he never intended to harm the center and planned to remove the references.

The Web site suggests companies provide "a leafy, comfortable workspace" and warns that "hominids (great apes) will not share source code and become very territorial when programming."