Originally created 09/26/03

Odds and Ends



LAS VEGAS -- A patient infuriated that he was kept waiting three hours for a doctor's appointment has gotten what he wanted: an apology.

"I'm happy. That's exactly what I was looking for," said patient Aristotelis Belavilas, 58. "He should have apologized in the beginning."

Belavilas, of Las Vegas, won a $250 judgment earlier this year after filing a $5,000 small claim against Dr. Ty Weller.

The case sparked a national debate about waiting room etiquette, and fueled physician concerns that it would set a costly precedent.

Weller, a pain management specialist in Las Vegas, did not immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment. His lawyer, Monica Pierce, said Weller was satisfied with the settlement and would drop his appeal.

Weller had said he became overbooked when he scheduled Belavilas for a back pain injection on Feb. 25. He insisted he was trying to accommodate Belavilas before Belavilas left on vacation.

Belavilas complained that his appointment was for 2 p.m., but Weller didn't show up until 5:15 p.m.

In a letter to Belavilas, Weller said he was sorry he missed the appointment and apologized for not appearing more sensitive when he arrived.

BARNESVILLE, Ohio -- Winston Wyckoff III has indeed seen the Great Pumpkin. He even watched it grow up.

The Wayne County farmer has officially raised Ohio's biggest pumpkin, a feat made official Wednesday night when announcer Darren Miller prepared the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival crowd for what he had just read on the scale.

"Oh, boy," he said. "We do have a new state record - 1,279 pounds."

The pumpkin, grown on land Wyckoff's family has farmed for nearly two centuries, officially weighed 1,279.5 pounds, beating the previous state record by 139 pounds.

And it was just 58 pounds short of the biggest pumpkin on record - a 1,337-pounder grown in New Hampshire last year.

Barnesville police officer Scott Guerin described it as being "kind of flat, but it looks like a pumpkin."

The festival, which continues until Sunday, will auction the enormous vegetable on Saturday. The winning bidder gets to put the pumpkin on display at his or her business or home for 10 days.

Then the pumpkin will be gutted and its seeds taken out and dried. The festival keeps half of the 600 to 800 seeds, which it will sell for about $1 each, and gives Wyckoff the other half.

Wyckoff's record-breaking pumpkin began in May as a seed from his 2001 Barnesville winner, an 844-pounder he calls the "mother seed."

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Michigan's state bird apparently has become far too run-of-the-mill for the Michigan Audubon Society.

The group lobbied to have the American robin named the state bird in 1931. Now it has mounted a similar effort on behalf of a species it says is more deserving.

The Michigan Audubon Society and Detroit Audubon Society want to replace the robin with the Kirtland's warbler, which nests only in Michigan and winters in the Bahamas.

"The main reason is it is the only bird that is unique to the state of Michigan," Detroit Audubon Society president James Bull said Wednesday.

"It is the one bird that people come from all over the country, all over the world, to see. There is no other bird that can fit that niche other than the Kirtland."

But the proposal has ruffled some feathers in the Michigan Legislature, which has to approve the change.

State Rep. Ruth Johnson is not ready to reject the robin, which is also the state bird of Wisconsin and Connecticut. "I don't want to take away our state bird," she said.

LITCHFIELD, Minn. -- Pumpkin farmer and baseball fan Don Nelson took a chance this spring when he created a corn maze paying tribute to the Minnesota Twins.

Now that the Twins have clinched the American League Central Division, he's glad he did it.

The maze in Nelson's cornfield features a huge baseball with "Twins" written across it and "Minnesota" written above it. The field also has six smaller baseballs and the team's logo carved into it.

Nelson said the maze might be hard for people on the ground to identify, but it looks impressive from the air.

He said visitors attending his Pumpkin Patch Festival the next five weekends and during the Education Minnesota break will be able to go on a scavenger hunt through the corn maze looking for answers to trivia questions about the Twins.