Odds and Ends
By Devin D. O'Leary
DECEMBER 7, 1999:
Dateline: Italy -- Mt. Vesuvius exploded in 79 A.D., burying the entire town of Pompeii -- but, hey, you can never be too careful. Neapolitans staged an orderly "Vesuvius drill" last Sunday, evacuating some 500 residents from the town of Somma Vesuviana at the base of the famed volcano in preparation for a possible eruption. Most residents brought picnic lunches aboard the 14 evacuation buses and treated the event as a fun day out. Under the full-scale eruption plan, 600,000 people would be evacuated from homes most at risk of being engulfed by Vesuvius' ash and lava. A series of small tremors last month raised fears that Vesuvius could be preparing to blow its top, but officials say the activity is normal and there is no danger. Vesuvius' last major eruption was in March of 1944.
Dateline: London -- A distraught British family phoned paramedics when one of their loved ones suddenly died. Unfortunately, ambulance drivers responding to the emergency call couldn't do much for the broken TV set. The family from Wolverhampton, in central England, apparently suffered a broken television set last Sunday and made a desperate plea for help by dialing 999 -- the British phone number for fire, police and medical emergencies. "This is obviously a misuse of the ambulance service," said a spokeswoman for West Midlands Ambulance Service. "The family concerned seemed to have misunderstood the 999 service." No word yet on the condition of the television.
Dateline: Louisiana -- A rap singer who performs in a bumblebee suit and calls himself Bum Beazy was arrested in New Orleans last week and charged with a series of robberies apparently designed to fuel his recording career. James Lane, 20, was captured on Monday after allegedly holding up a grocery store. Once in custody, Lane admitted to robbing nine other businesses in the New Orleans area. According to St. Charles Parish officials, Lane -- who performs on stage in a full bumblebee costume -- told police he needed the money to pay for recording an album of rap songs under his stage name Bum Beazy.
Dateline: Alabama -- Redneck genius Emmet Ayers II didn't want to get in trouble for driving without a license, so he came up with a brilliant idea: He let his four-year-old nephew drive. Seems Ayers, 20, needed to go to the police station in Moulton, Ala., to pick up his driver's license, which was taken for a routine driver's license check. Rather than risk breaking the law by driving without his license, Ayers had his four-year-old nephew chauffeur him around. Deputies were in the station's parking lot when they noticed a small child cruising up in a 1977 Cadillac Deville. The boy was standing in the driver's seat working the wheel, while Ayers was in the passenger seat operating the gas and break pedals. Thanks to his clever circumventing of traffic laws, Ayers was not arrested for driving without a license. Moulton police did, however, nab Ayers for allowing a minor to drive, reckless endangerment and failing to use a child restraint.
Dateline: California -- Thank goodness we no longer have to worry about that pesky Y2K bug screwing things up. Unfortunately, a brand new Y2K-compliant computer system recently installed in Oakland, Calif., has left scores of city employees with incorrect paychecks. One employee walked away with $300,000 for a two-week pay period. Another wound up with a $13 check for the same time period. Oakland officials said data entry clerks using the new Year 2000 system had not received enough training. At least the dates on the checks were correct.