Originally created 06/03/04

Odds and Ends



CLARKSVILLE, Ind. -- A 22-year-old man who climbed an electrical tower survived a 69,000-volt shock that a utility official said was nearly always fatal.

Jason Grisham was in fair condition Wednesday in a hospital burn unit.

Police and a Cinergy/PSI employee found Grisham asking for help as he emerged Sunday from behind a building at a substation where the tower was scaled. Grisham "appeared to have extensive burn marks on his chest and his pants appeared to have exploded," police said.

Grisham, from New Albany, scaled the fence around the tower about 6:30 a.m. and then started to climb the tower itself, rising 12 to 15 feet before he "received a dose of ... electricity and was knocked to the ground," said police, who were seeking a toxicology report.

"Contact with that level of voltage is almost always fatal," Cinergy/PSI spokeswoman Angeline Protogere said. She noted that household voltage is mostly 120 volts.

Protogere said the shock disrupted power to 6,800 customers.

The fence Grisham climbed is 7 feet tall and has three strands of barbed wire on top of it, and there are "clearly visible signs" saying "Danger/High Voltage," Protogere said.

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KANOPOLIS, Kan. -- Experts believe a two-legged culprit may be behind several sightings of a nonnative rattlesnake at Kanopolis State Park.

Since a dead Western diamondback rattlesnake was found at the park in 1993, the first recorded sighting, four live snakes have been captured. There have been another 10 sightings of live snakes.

"This is not herd migration stuff," said herpetologist Joseph Collins, who works with the Kansas Biological Survey at the University of Kansas. "It's possible someone is systematically turning them loose year after year."

No visitors have been bitten by western diamondbacks at the park, which is located in central Kansas and draws about 280,000 people each year.

Diamondbacks, native to the Southwest, average between 4 and 5 feet in length, far bigger than native prairie rattlers, which average 3 feet. Diamondbacks also pack a bigger venom punch.

Park manager Rick Martin said it's possible someone intended to keep them as pets, but released them when they became too troublesome. State law prohibits the release of any exotic animal into the wild.

"We would love to find out who is doing this," said Eric Rundquist, an animal science technician.

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NEW YORK -- A glassful of cold New York City tap water not kosher?

It may be true - and just in case, restaurants and bakeries operated under Orthodox Jewish law were advised Tuesday to use filters that can ensure water purity.

The problem: tiny creatures called copepods, which are crustaceans. Under Jewish law the eating of crustaceans - aquatic animals with skeletons outside their bodies, including shrimp, crabs and lobsters - is barred.

Stores in heavily orthodox Brooklyn reported a run on water filters and rabbis considered whether additional measures were necessary.

Rabbi Abraham Zimmerman, of the Orthodox Satmar sect, said the recent discovery of the copepods was a small hardship, but he called on the city to help in making its water kosher.

But the Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the reservoirs, said that the copepods are impossible to do away with and that they deliver health benefits to the reservoir.

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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Here's your chance to dine like royalty - or at least own some dinnerware that may have been used by monarchs and celebrities.

The state Department of Administration is auctioning off dinnerware that graced the tables at the Minnesota governor's mansion, which has played host to then-Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Princess Margaret of England and actress Mary Tyler Moore.

Nearly 50 pieces in all, the items are being sold individually in a series of online auctions. Some are slightly chipped; others are part of incomplete settings.

The bidding period for the first five pieces closes Monday. Each will include a certificate of authenticity. Ninety percent of the proceeds will go to the group in charge of maintaining the residence and the rest will cover auction costs.

Robert Booker, chairman of the Governor's Residence Council, said while all of the dinnerware was used at the mansion, buyers won't receive any guarantees a particular plate was used by a specific dignitary.

"Who knows who ate off which plates," Booker said.