Originally created 12/16/04

Odds and Ends

CLIFTON, N.J. - A Missouri family's pet snake, missing for a while, turned up alive and slithering in a box they had sent to New Jersey, about 1,000 miles away.

The box contained a DVD player that was being sent for repairs. The family believes Paco the Python crawled into the box before they sealed it and sent it to the factory via UPS.

Sheila Himmerick said her family had been looking for the snake when she received a call from the New Jersey repair shop, CVE Inc., wondering if the snake in the box belonged to her and whether it was her way of expressing customer dissatisfaction.

"My heart fell," said Himmerick, 38, of Jefferson City, Mo. "You just get that lump in your throat. It was just, 'Oh, my God! What have I done?'"

Paco, a 3-foot, 4-pound ball python will be shipped back home to Missouri, this time in temperature-controlled comfort.


NEZPERCE, Idaho - A man picked the wrong location for an alleged drug deal. Telling an eyewitness to mind his own business also was not a good idea.

It was in front of the home of Lewis County's sheriff-elect, who was sitting on his front porch.

"They really picked the wrong house to be in front of," said Phil Steen, who will be sworn into office next month.

Steen had only lived in the home about three weeks when he decided to enjoy the Saturday evening air. But some suspicious activity on the street impaired his view.

Steen saw what he thought was a drug deal in the street. When those involved noticed him watching, they simply told him to "look away," Steen said.

Instead of looking elsewhere, Steen ran the suspects' license plates. It led to a search of two houses and a vehicle, then the arrest of James MacArthur, 46.

MacArthur is charged with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia.


DORMONT, Pa. - Forget all that stuff about a white Christmas. Jeweler Barry Landay's customers are hoping for a white New Year's Day.

That's because, for the fourth straight year, Landay's Style Jewelry in this Pittsburgh suburb is offering a full refund to anyone who buys jewelry between now and Christmas Eve if at least six inches of snow fall at Pittsburgh International Airport on New Year's Day.

Landay hasn't had to pay up in past years. But he's not crazy - he's insured by a policy covering the promotion.

The sign in the window of Landay's store reads "Let it $now, Let it $now, Let it $now" and features another big word: Free.

"I'll tell you this much, I know it stops them," Landay said of those who might otherwise walk past his store. "They'll stop in and ask. It's something to chat about."


SINGAPORE - Fragrances aimed at getting Singaporeans in the mood for love will soon be sold abroad, after being used in a government-backed campaign aimed at boosting the city-state's declining birth rate.

His and hers "Romance Singapore Eau de Parfum" will soon be exported to Asia, North America and Europe, said Jen Chan, marketing manager for the company that handles the scents, Cosmetical Asia Pte. Ltd.

The perfumes - a floral essence for her and a musky scent for him - were created by chemistry students from Singapore Polytechnic prep school to coincide with the island country's "Romancing Singapore" campaign in February this year.

The campaign was a government-backed effort to help citizens find love and boost the country's record-low birth rate. Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the falling birth rate was among the administration's top three priorities for 2004.

The perfumes will be sold in 50-milliliter bottles for $29.70.


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