Odds & Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
SEPTEMBER 14, 1998:
Dateline: Canada--As billionaires continue to fail in their
round-the-world ballooning attempts, an errant Canadian weather
balloon appears unstoppable in its bid. Early last week, the unmanned
26-story balloon survived attempts by the Canadian Air Force to
shoot it down. Two fighters pumped more than 1,000 rounds into
the wayward balloon, but failed to bring it down over Nova Scotia.
Badly off course and lacking a warning transponder, the balloon
drifted all week in the North Atlantic, causing rerouting of commercial
air traffic. By the weekend, the weather balloon was in Russian
Dateline: Thailand--The Auditor General of economically
depressed Thailand discovered a long-forgotten 16-year-old bank
account at the U.S. Federal Reserve containing more than a third
of a billion dollars. No word yet on what the cash-strapped nation
will do with the $367 million windfall. New furniture in the Auditor
General's office seems likely, though.
Dateline: Ivory Coast--Colonel Pascal Gbeh, 49, of Africa's
Ivory Coast Army was killed while testing a "magic belt"
supposedly endowed with the power to protect him from bullets,
so long as he abstained from sex while wearing it. Gbeh apparently
donned the belt and handed his service pistol to the son of the
belt's maker to try it out. The young man shot Gbeh, who died
instantly. Obviously, the Ivory Coast Army will not be adopting
the "magic belt" anytime soon.
Dateline: Libya--In what could be the least impressive
award presentation in the world, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi
awarded Cuban dictator Fidel Castro his 1998 human rights prize.
The award, named in honor of Gadhafi himself, was given in appreciation
of Castro's "history of struggle."
Dateline: Florida--Enthusiasts at Orlando's Disneyworld
say they have failed in their attempt to rescue "Mr. Toad's
Wild Ride" from the wrecking ball. Disney imagineers will
continue with plans to close the venerable ride forever on Sept.
8. Disney plans to replace Mr. Toad with a "more modern"
Winnie the Pooh attraction.
Dateline: Florida--When George and Ruth Selby of Delray
Beach, Fla., decided to return to the site of their honeymoon
to celebrate their 50th anniversary, they didn't count on times--and
prices--changing so radically. In May of 1948, the newly hitched
Selbys went to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City to celebrate
their nuptials. The price for that night of passion? Fifteen dollars.
This time around, Mrs. Selby was told that the cheapest accommodations
in the house went for $435 a night. When Mrs. Selby mentioned
her honeymoon, however, the operator at the Waldorf-Astoria put
her on hold. When she returned, the operator informed the Selbys
that they could stay at the $15-a-night rate if they had their
original receipt. They did. The couple returned to Manhattan last
month and stayed seven nights for $18.75 a night--the 1948 rate
Dateline: Oklahoma--Deceased housewife Jacquelyn Ledgerwood
took second place in Oklahoma's Democratic primary for a U.S.
Senate seat, despite the fact that she's been dead for over a
month from a stroke. Ledgerwood's victory has forced a runoff
election, where she will also be on the ballot. Oklahoma state
law does not allow a candidate to be removed from the ballot.