Originally created 10/06/04

Odds and Ends

SALT LAKE CITY - With no idea how many people were listening to his walkie-talkie, it was anything but a modest proposal.

That didn't deter Jason Parker, a U.S. Forest Service Officer, from asking his girlfriend of three years, a police dispatcher, to marry him over the police radio.

Despite a few crackles, the message from Parker on Monday came through loud and clear - not just to Teri Yoakam, but to every police officer and CB radio junkie listening in.

The line was silent for a few moments before Yoakam said "yes."

"I didn't hesitate because I didn't know what I was going to say. I was just trying to come up with a really profound answer," Yoakam said. "I did manage to say a little more than yes."

Actually, Yoakam said, "I would absolutely love to." After that, a handful of police officers who overheard Parker chimed in with their responses.

"If you don't, I would have," was one reply.

The two met at work - Utah County's dispatchers take calls for the forest service.

Parker said he was originally going to sky dive onto the lawn in front of the Utah County Sheriff's Office or rent a plane to fly a trailing message, but he was worried the weather wouldn't cooperate.

"So I talked to the sheriff and got permission to take about 25 seconds," Parker said. "I was real nervous."


PARIS - A motorist in France went a little faster than he wanted when he claimed his cruise control got stuck, leaving him barreling down a busy highway at 120 mph and forcing police to help clear a route.

The Le Parisien newspaper quoted Hicham Dequiedt saying he was overtaking a truck when his Renault Vel Satis started to accelerate with a life of its own. He couldn't cut the ignition, he said, because his car has a magnetic card instead of a key.

"It was impossible to slow down! Stomping on the brakes proved pointless, nothing worked. I avoided one car after another by flashing my lights at them," the 29-year-old was quoted as saying.

Dequiedt managed, however, to alert police on his mobile phone. Messages warning other motorists of the danger were flashed up on screens that straddle the highway and over a traffic radio station, Le Parisien said.

Finally, as he was bearing down on a toll booth, Dequiedt said he finally managed to bring the car to a halt - having raced down some 125 miles of highway between Vierzon and Riom in central France.

"I stomped on the brakes as hard as I could and the car finally stopped," he said.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A scrappy law firm has won the right to drum up business by advertising its phone number as 1-800-PITBULL.

Broward County Court Judge William Herring ruled the Pape & Chandler law firm's TV commercials using its controversial phone number and logo of a spike-collared pit pull is protected, despite objections from the Florida Bar.

Herring rejected the Florida Bar's assertions that capitalizing on the image of "a ferocious animal" in the commercials is manipulative and violates state laws regulating legal advertisements.

Herring last week said the qualities the lawyers link to pit bulls are "desirable traits in attorneys."

The law firm, which specializes in motorcycle crash litigation, has spent the last three years defending its use of 1-800-PITBULL. Attorney John Pape said the logo was symbolic of their firm's "loyalty to our clients and to each other and tenacity, determination and aggressiveness in representing our injured clients."

Florida Bar attorney Randi Klayman Lazarus wrote the pit bull "represents a ferocious animal that inspires heart-throbbing fear."


WICHITA, Kan. - Matthew Cuellar went to an auction and came away ahead - a little too ahead, according to the city.

Cuellar bid on and won four pieces of James Rosati's 1981 sculpture "Upright Form V" that had mistakenly ended up on the auction block with other items the city kept in storage. Now city officials are trying to get it back.

Cuellar showed up at the sale Saturday - held every three years - and casually perused the offerings. He spotted a shiny, 17-inch-long stainless steel piece set atop a stove.

He found two other similar pieces, one inscribed with Rosati's name. A call to a friend was placed, the significance of the find was confirmed and a bid was placed.

And for a mere $20, it was his.

Two other pieces of the sculpture went up for sale later and Cuellar won them for $230. But when Cuellar went to pay for the two others, auction workers realized they were dealing with more than scrap metal. They wouldn't take his money and refused to turn over the remaining pieces of the sculpture.

The city attorney's office contacted Cuellar on Monday, asking him to return his half of the sculpture in return for his payment. It may not be that easy.

Cuellar said that once he determines the value of the pieces, he will accept one-third to return it.

"If I'd later found out it was just scrap metal," he said, "they wouldn't give me my money back."


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