Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Day in the Life

Today is Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Scattered among the big-news stories on Friday were a few shorter articles that ranged from heart-rending to frightening to amazing.  Here's a sample, with my comments. 

Jean Fritz Pierre
Photo from his memorial
Facebook page
Truancy calls:  A New York father lost his 16-year-old son in a drowning incident that occurred while on a school field trip this past June.  This fall Prospect Heights International School has been repeatedly calling the father, Jonas Pierre, to say that his son, Jean Fritz, is suspected of skipping school.   What an awful thing for a parent of a dead child to endure, especially when the child died at a school function!  I'm aware that school districts in New York City are huge, and that truancy calls are often automated in the big districts.  Still, it's too bad that things like this don't get fixed until some news organization gets hold of the story.  Meanwhile, although an investigation into the death cleared school officials from any wrongdoing in the child's death, the father is suing the New York Department of Education and the City of New York for $5 million.  A spokeswoman for the New York Department of Education told the news media that she would make sure the father did not get any more calls.  I have no idea how the father's suit will turn out, but when you figure the cost of education, don't forget to figure in the cost of litigation and settlements.  Most really big districts are involved in at least one active lawsuit more or less constantly.  :-(

Medical emergency: A United Airlines flight from Houston to Seattle made an emergency stop in Boise, Idaho, on Thursday evening, saying that the pilot had suffered a heart attack.  The plane was allowed to land and stop on the runway, where it was met by paramedics.  The pilot was rushed to the hospital, where he died.  Fortunately, the co-pilot handled the situation well, and passengers praised the airline for the way the emergency was handled.  An incident that could possibly have posed danger to the 161 passengers and 6 crew members was handled professionally.  Good for the airline, and good for the passengers.  Very sad for the pilot's family.   :-(

Lizards on the loose: A woman in Cape Coral, Florida, suspects that a Nile monitor lizard ate her 12-year old cat.  She saw the lizard in the days before the cat's death, and found her cat's hair and some remains in a neighbor's yard on Friday morning.  Nile monitor lizards grow to the size of 6-9 feet long, and have huge claws that can rip into a carcass three times their size.  They just rip their prey apart and eat the insides right out, bones and all.  The woman is devastated at the loss of her cat, and is now making it her business to warn neighbors in her area about the presence of Nile monitors.  Apparently, there are thousands of these lizards in Cape Coral.  They are an "invasive species," which means they are not native to the area.  In fact, they originate from Africa. 

How did these lizards get to Florida?  There are several theories.  Local legend says that a pet store went bankrupt sometime in the '80s and the owner let loose a bunch of monitors in an area that was unpopulated at the time.  Another theory is that wholesale distributors of exotic pets dumped monitors on purpose, hoping they would procreate and provide a steady inventory to be caught and sold later.  Others think that a series of lizard owners over the years bought monitors when they were still small and then couldn't take care of them or just didn't want them anymore when they began to grow into small dinosaurs. What makes this area so attractive to the lizards?  400 miles of man-made canals in Cape Coral.  The water and the climate are just right for them, and experts say that the lizards can burrow right through the soft banks of the canals into the earth, tunnel through, and come up in somebody's yard.

Meanwhile, the housing market in Cape Coral is not doing so well, because of the recession, and the growing population of monitor lizards is not helping the situation.  I sure wouldn't want to buy a house there.  Would you?  :-(

No good deed goes unpunished: When a Goodwill store in Naples, Florida, found out that their 19-year-old employee, Andrew Anderson, had been giving customers discounts, they fired him and had him arrested for grand theft.  The young man did not deny the charges, but said he was unaware that what he was doing was illegal.  He thought he was doing the right thing, in the spirit of that Goodwill stands for.  (Goodwill is a charity that resells used clothing and household items that have been donated by members of the local community.)

An investigation found that Anderson did not make any personal profit on the transactions, so Goodwill decided to drop the charges.  However, they stated that the discounts amounted to around $4,000.   Anderson was bailed out of jail for $5,000 the same day he was arrested, so he didn't spend much time there.  It must have been a scary and confusing experience for him.  Here he thought he'd been doing the right thing giving people discounts.

No word on whether the young man will be allowed to work at Goodwill again, or whether he will have to seek another job.  Hopefully, his arrest will not keep him from employment elsewhere.  The only winner in this situation seems to be whoever got the bail money – unless they had to return it.   :-/

Martha Stewart at an Apple store in
New York in 2010.
Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Martha's broken iPad: The other day, Martha Stewart dropped her iPad and cracked the glass.  Awwwww.  It happens.  She escalated the situation when she took to Twitter to complain that she wanted Apple to come and pick up her iPad and fix it.  OK, sure, she offers apps such as CraftStudio for iPad, but did she really think Apple was going to send a guy to her door to fix it?

As a long-time Apple customer, I know that Apple has a pretty good repair and support operation, but the vast, vast majority of us do have to trot our equipment to the store to have it fixed.  Welcome to the world that the rest of us live in, Martha, honey.  :-(

Miracle at McDonalds:  Last Tuesday in Fort Worth, TX, a 24-year-old man who has served jail time and who has been sentenced to anger management classes for past offenses walked into a McDonald's restaurant and threatened employees and customers with a gun. He told them to give him their car keys and money.  He even pulled the trigger, but the gun jammed and would not fire.  One customer attempted to pin the perpetrator against the wall, to no avail.  While people dove for cover, the perpetrator walked outside the restaurant and fired his weapon a couple of times.  It worked.  Then we went back into the restaurant and tried to fire again. And the gun jammed.  Again.  The cops were called and the gunman, Jestin Joseph, was captured.  He is being held on $500,000 bond.  Joseph told police he didn't mean to hurt anybody, but his entire crime was captured on video, and as one newscaster commented, the gunman tried to fire his weapon a number of times.   Why did he do that, if he never meant to kill anyone?   Apparently, the anger management classes that he was sentenced to last time failed.   I truly hope that this one gets put away for a long, long time, even though nobody was hurt in the incident.  :-/

Treasure on Mont Blanc:  An unidentified French mountain climber came across a small metal box containing rare, uncut jewels – rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in pouches stamped "Made in India."  The honest young man brought his haul to the police, who are trying to trace the heirs of the original owners.  French law says that if the owners cannot be identified, the climber will get to keep the jewels, which are valued at over $300,000.  When the investigation is complete, somebody will be very rich.

There are two possibilities for how the jewels ended up on the mountain, both tragic.  Air India flight 245, "the Malabar Princess," was en route from Bombay (now called Mumbai) to London, and was preparing to make a stop in Geneva, Switzerland, when it crashed on the mountain in a storm.  All 48 persons aboard were killed.

The other possibility is an Air India Boeing 707, the "Kanchenjunga," that crashed in nearly the same place in 1966.  A diplomatic pouch from that flight was found last year. 

Climbers in the Alps often run across debris from crashed planes, and sometimes baggage or even human remains.  Even if the climber doesn't get to keep the jewels, he will have quite a story to tell his grandchildren.  :-)

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