The Odd Side – December 30, 2014

Man in a Kayak Helps Nab Suspected Mail Thief

SAMMAMISH, Wash. (AP) — A fast-paddling man in a kayak helped sheriff’s deputies in Washington state nab a suspected mail thief.

Deputies received multiple calls on Wednesday morning that a man and a woman were going through mailboxes around the town of Sammamish.

While deputies were on their way, residents spotted a car filled with mail and used their cars to block it in.

The suspected mail thieves ran off, and one was caught immediately. The other fled to a nearby pond with a kayak he grabbed out of a yard.

A resident grabbed his own kayak, caught up to the suspect and convinced him to return to shore, where he was arrested.

The sheriff’s office says the suspect didn’t get very far, because he was using his hands to paddle.

One Monkey Gives First Aid To Other, Electrocuted Monkey

NEW DELHI (AP) — Onlookers at a train station in northern India watched in awe as a monkey came to the rescue of an injured friend — resuscitating another monkey that had been electrocuted and knocked unconscious.

The injured monkey had fallen between the tracks, apparently after touching high-tension wires at the train station in the north Indian city of Kanpur.

His companion came to the rescue and was captured on camera lifting the friend’s motionless body, shaking it, dipping it into a mud puddle and biting its head and skin — working until the hurt monkey regained consciousness.

The first monkey, completely covered in mud, opened its eyes and began moving again.

Crowds of travelers watched the scene in amazement, filming and snapping pictures.

Blizzard in Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — A blizzard dusted two island mountaintops last Thursday and gave tourists and residents in Hawaii a rare sight.

The blizzard has eased, but strong winds are blowing the snow around on two Big Island summits. While snow on the mountains is common, a blizzard is unusual.

The National Weather Service canceled a blizzard warning Thursday morning for the summits of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Weather service meteorologist Norman Hui says the mountains will remain snow-capped for a day or two before the powder melts.

Hui says a high wind warning for the summits will likely be canceled later Thursday.

Dog Not Gone: Rescue in the Columbia Gorge

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A yellow Labrador that got spooked on a hike in the Columbia Gorge, snapping her leash and plunging 150 feet down a cliff, was rescued in the dark by a climber who rappelled to a narrow ledge where the dog was trapped.

David Schelske of West Linn told the Oregon Humane Society that when 3-year-old Sandy bounded around a bend and disappeared he figured her for a goner.

He hiked to the bottom of the cliff and saw her stranded on a narrow ledge 70 feet above.

About 7 p.m., an eight-person crew helped Humane Society volunteer John Thoeni descend.

He fitted a rescue harness on the frightened dog, and the two were hoisted to safety. Sandy suffered minor injuries but walked out to the trailhead.

Famous Venezuelan Ice-Cream Store Closes Over Milk Shortage

CARACAS (Reuters) – An ice-cream store listed in the Guinness World Records book for its 863 different flavors has become the latest victim of Venezuela’s economic crisis.

“We are closed during the season due to shortage of milk,” the famous Coromoto ice-cream store in the highland town of Merida announced online.

Locals confirmed that the shop, hugely popular among tourists for its exotic and strange flavors ranging from beer to beans, had been closed since December 24.

A sign on the door asked customers’ forgiveness “for not attending you due to the lack of milk.”

Venezuelans have been suffering acute shortages of basic goods, from bathroom tissue to spare tires, all year due to an economic slowdown, the highest inflation in the Americas, and the impact of strict currency controls.

President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government says foes in Venezuela’s opposition and wealthy elite are exacerbating economic problems by hoarding and price-gouging in what he terms an “economic war” against him.

The shortages have annoyed Venezuelans across the political spectrum and contributed to a fall in Maduro’s popularity, with one prominent local pollster putting him on 24 percent approval — less than half when he was elected last year.

Among the Year’s Oddest Stories, Animal Tales Were Top Dogs

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Many tales from the animal kingdom this year were by turns heart-warming and hilarious.

A parrot that spoke English with a British accent went missing for four years, only to return to his California home speaking Spanish and asking for someone named Larry.

For sheer heroics, it was hard to top the family cat that rescued a California child pulled from his bike by an attacking dog.

It could have been worse for the German shepherd puppy that knocked a car into gear and jumped on the gas pedal, driving the vehicle into a pond where it sank. The dog survived.

A solution to bad feline behavior was suggested by a story about a 120-pound Burmese python found lurking in the Florida underbrush, likely solving the mystery of what happened to all the disappearing cats in the neighborhood.

“It’s the answer to so many questions,” said Pamela Dinola, who lost five of her seven cats.

Yes, the news flow this year also offered numerous reminders of the imperfect nature of humankind.

There was the cautionary tale of a Washington state man who set his house on fire when using a makeshift blowtorch to kill a spider, and a Connecticut driver accused of snatching the results of his sobriety test and trying to eat them.

A Florida contractor had to figure out what to do after building a million-dollar ocean-view home on the wrong lot, while Fort Worth, Texas, was hit with its third lawsuit in a year by residents saying the city knocked down their homes by mistake.