Originally created 02/04/05

Odds and Ends



GYPSUM, Colo. - A high school graduate has confessed to cheating on an English literature test - 47 years ago.

Eagle Valley High School Principal Mark Strakbein said he got a one-page, handwritten letter from a 65-year-old grandmother of five who admitted she and a friend stole the answers to a Shakespeare test in the fall of 1957.

"I know it makes no difference now (after 47 years), except maybe this will keep some student from cheating and help them to be honest - conscience never lets you forget - there is forgiveness with God, and I have that, but I felt I still needed to confess to the school."

Strakbein didn't release the woman's name but said he confirmed she graduated in 1958 from Eagle County High School, which has since been consolidated into Eagle Valley High.

Strakbein said he read the letter aloud to every homeroom class as a lesson in following your conscience.

"You could have heard a pin drop," he said.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - Alligator heads are popping up in the pond at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, but don't worry. Officials say it's just ducky.

The life-size, urethane-foam alligator heads were being put in the pond Wednesday to scare away ducks and geese so the growing bird population will not become a health hazard.

The "Gator Guard" from Bird-X Inc. costs $69 and has reflective orange-yellow eyes that resemble one of the birds' natural predators.

"Our fear is that we'll put them out and the ducks will figure out they're not a threat," said Marcia Green, director of the UAH office of environmental health and safety.

She said the two will sometimes be anchored in the lake to float and move around in the water.

"We aren't going to keep them there permanently," Green said.

Green's office checked with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about effective waterfowl population control before deciding to try the faux-alligators.

Green said they have reportedly been effective at other schools and on golf courses.

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A team of inventors has a bright idea - a better light bulb.

To demonstrate the durability of a new kind of light bulb, Richard Begley tossed one on the ground and dipped another one under water.

"Would you do that with a regular bulb?" the Marshall University researcher asked Wednesday.

The U.S. Patent and Trade office recently granted a patent for the solid-state ElectroCeramescent lighting technology, which was developed by Begley, an engineering professor; Michael Norton, a chemistry professor; and researchers from Alfred University College of Ceramics in New York and Lewisburg-based Meadow River Enterprises Inc.

The inventors are now entertaining contract offers for commercial applications for the ceramic-on-steel lights, which they say could lead to hundreds of new jobs in West Virginia.

A square foot of the new light panels consumes one-quarter of a watt or power, said Don Osborne, president of Meadow River Enterprises.

Researchers estimate the bulbs can emit their soft greenish light for 50,000 hours - or more than five years - without much maintenance.

The lights' low energy consumption and high durability make them ideal for outdoor use, such as for road signs or on maritime buoys, Osborne said.

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WILLMAR, Minn. (AP) - A teenager auctioning himself as a prom date has been booted off eBay - but he's still selling the shirt off his back.

Nathan Carlson offered himself for auction last Friday after a conversation with some friends at Ridgewater College. The bidding started at $30.

But as the bids came in and exceeded $260, Carlson added a comment that he'd contribute half the money to charity if the bidding went past $1,500 - a big no-no for the online auction site.

That comment violated eBay's policies on auctions to benefit charity, and the Web site ended the auction on Tuesday. Carlson reposted his auction Tuesday and added other auctions to sell the clothes he wore during some television interviews, at the request of some of the eBay bidders, he said.

"Maybe they just thought my dancing was great," he said.

But eBay canceled his prom date auction again. "They said the name was inappropriate or false," he said Wednesday.

Carlson had listed his prom date auction, his shirt and other items as "seen on the news."

Early Thursday, Carlson's prom date auction could not be found on eBay, but The Associated Press found Carlson was selling a silk shirt and a wristwatch.