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A week in the news

Published January 30. 2010 09:00AM

This isn't a good week for Sandusky, Ohio folks as two bizarre stories made the Associated Press wire.

n the "Meteor Falling on Head" file, a 47 year old woman named Deborah McDonald left a bar where she was with a group who was celebrating her winning an $8,000 prize in an Ohio lottery game show and was struck and killed by a car while she was walking on the side of a road.

In an unrelated story, a 61-year old man named Ralph Barr decided to express his crabbiness over a mistake made on the sale price of crab cakes and invoked his right to self expression by punching the store manager in a Sandusky supermarket several times following it up with a head butt for good measure. It is a good thing he didn't have claws or the manager might have mistook him for a crab. Police have charged the ill-tempered customer with assault and criminal damage. They don't say whether he kept the crab cakes. I guess this would be filed in the "Crabs with Fists" file.

Apparently Ohio isn't the only place this week where the fates have decided to wreak havoc on people. This story made the "Who Needs an Alarm" file. Seventy five year old Elizabeth Allred of Rogersville, Tennessee didn't need an alarm clock to wake on Tuesday morning as a boulder the size of a compact car did the job instead. The woman, who was recovering from a broken hip, was sleeping in her hospital bed when the rock crashed into her apartment bedroom, missing her bed and stopping nearby. The force from the boulder destroyed the wall shoved the bed across the room. She told authorities it sounded like a train crashing into her bedroom.

Of course some news items are a bit on the lighter side and in the dumb crook file this week. We are not lacking in stupidity. Filed under "Maybe We Should Have Planned This Better" is an item about two 17 year old boys escaping from a juvenile diversion program in Florida in a fire truck. As if that is not being discreet, our two car thieves decided to escape in their underwear. Maybe it is just me, but one has to ask what the next part of their escape plan was although I suspect they don't know either. They will have a great deal of time to discuss it though if they are found guilty of the grand theft auto charges filed by police. Spokesperson for the Monroe County Florida Sheriff's Department Becky Herrin said they had police cars stolen before but never a fire truck. I would like to bet the police cars were stolen by someone who was at least wearing clothes.

In the "Jump The Shark" file this week is a 79-year-old thief named Doris Payne. While the name may not be familiar yet to most of us, she is actually the subject of an upcoming Halle Berry film about her 50 year career as an infamous jewel thief who plotted and stole costly rings and other jewels over that time. While she was caught several times over the years and jailed, she was on parole when she walked into Saks Fifth Avenue store in California and tried to walk out with a $1,300 trench coat. I would guess there is a time when even jewel thieves should retire.

Shifting from true crime to science here is one for the "It Isn't as Dramatic As It Sounds File". According to the Associated Press, scientists believe that alien life may already be here on Earth, but before you start suspecting that strange neighbor down the street is really a Martian, you should know they are not talking about that type of alien. Instead scientists believe there are microbes that hitchhiked on meteors alive and well on our soil. This is not a new idea, but one that science has examined.

The problem? How do you determine if a new microbe discovered is really extra-terrestrial in origin or just a variation of life on Earth? Scientists find new forms of life on our planet each year and because of the simplicity of a microbe, it is extremely difficult to determine whether it is a different biological entity or just a variation.

And finally in the "Don't You Have Anything Better To Do" file is one of the most bizarre science stories of the week. In the London Times earlier this week was an article about a group of scientists who want to exhume the Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci to do facial reconstruction in order to settle the question as to whether the Mona Lisa is a disguised self-portrait or not. As a bonus, they will be able to determine whether he suffered from syphilis or lead poisoning. The former illness was like a plague in the Middle Ages while many painters suffered the toxic effects of lead due to its widespread use in pigments. One curator thinks it is crazy because historically there are claims the Mona Lisa was a real subject who posed for the famous painter. One has to wonder if there aren't better ways to spend time, perhaps seeing who is really buried in Grant's tomb.

Til next time…

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