Originally created 05/24/05

Odds and Ends

CANBERRA, Australia - Fair warning for all those planning to sneak talcum powder into Australia: The cops will be waiting.

Seven police sniffer dogs have failed to ferret out cocaine for the simple reason that the sample used to train them over the past three months was talcum powder, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans said Friday.

"I'm sure our dogs have got very soft, nice smelling noses at the moment, but they are in fact trained in detecting talcum powder so that means that they will have to be retrained in detecting cocaine," he told reporters.

Evans said police did not believe cocaine had been stolen and blamed an administrative error for the mix-up. Internal investigations have been launched both within Victoria police and the Australian Federal Police.

"If there are any missing kids out there, we'd find them fairly quickly, I should think," Evans quipped.


FENTON, Mich. - Chris MacIntosh didn't cry when he drove a power drill through his forearm, so it should come as no surprise that he shed no tears over losing a national contest for men of his ilk.

The lumber salesman from Fenton said he was relieved when DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group - sponsor of the Dodge Dakota Ultimate Guy contest - recently informed him that the grand prize, a 2005 Dodge pickup, was going to David Neumann of Valley Mills, Texas.

"It was a little stressful with all those phone calls," said MacIntosh, 33.

Neumann was chosen from hundreds of entries as the person who best embodies the characteristics of someone who is strong, capable, works hard and plays even harder. He won an all-new 2005 Dodge Dakota pickup truck and an ultimate sports day for him and four of his friends.

Amy MacIntosh nominated her husband for the contest after last summer's drill accident, which he handled by putting the power tool in reverse, pulling it out of his forearm, bandaging the wound and going back to building a backyard deck. He was one of 12 finalists picked from among nearly 600 entries.

"He's still my Ultimate Guy," said Amy MacIntosh, also 33.


RALEIGH, N.C. - The state's test writers tried to come up with a math question about football and ended up with a fumble.

On an end-of-grade test this month, seventh-graders had to calculate the average gain for a team on the game's first six plays. But the team did not gain 10 yards on the first four plays and would have lost possession before a fifth and sixth play.

The team opened with a 6-yard loss, a 3-yard gain and a 2-yard loss, which would have made it fourth down with 15 yards to go for a first down. The team's fourth play was just a 7-yard gain, yet it maintained possession for a 12-yard gain and a 4-yard gain on two additional plays.

"Whoever wrote it didn't think it through," said Gene Daniels, athletics director of Salem Middle School in Apex.

Mildred Bazemore, chief of the state Department of Public Instruction's test development section, said the question makes sense mathematically and was reviewed thoroughly.

"It has nothing to do with football," Bazemore said. "It has to do with the mathematical concepts that you're studying."


OUTLOOK, Mont. - Jamie Gatz took center stage at her high school commencement and tailored the ceremony to her liking, choosing burgundy and sky blue as the colors for the Class of 2005.

Gatz didn't have to compromise, and didn't have any rivals for the title of valedictorian. The young lady from a farm in northeastern Montana was the lone graduate in the weekend ceremony.

When Outlook School closes its doors Wednesday, they won't shut just for the summer. The school in this shrinking farm community that had a population of 82 in the 2000 census is closing for good. There aren't enough students to keep the doors open.

"Two weeks before school started, we had 27 kids enrolled," said school clerk LaVerle "Bunky" Wirtz. "A week before school started, we had four."

Last summer, parents of most children transferred them to the larger school system in Plentywood, 18 miles away. "When a few started going, it just started snowballing," said Loren Dunk, Outlook superintendent.

For Gatz, highlights of her senior year included an eight-day school trip to the East. She and the other three younger students raised money for the journey that took them to New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. Now Gatz is preparing to attend college.


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