The Odd Side – October 20, 2015

Urgent Repair Work Could Silence London’s Landmark Big Ben Clock

LONDON, England  (Reuters) – London’s 156-year-old Big Ben clock —which has already shown signs of its age this year by chiming late — may now need major repairs.

The five-ton clock, including its 12-foot-long minute hand, needs extensive work to fix water erosion and cracks in the masonry, a survey by a parliamentary committee found. Over 31 years have passed since similar work was carried out.

A long period without its familiar hourly chimes would be the first since 1976 when it stopped tolling intermittently for 26 days over nine months.

“Committees of both Houses are currently considering the study and will provide advice to inform the business case for how best to proceed,” a parliamentary spokeswoman said.

“No decisions on works, timescales or costs have been agreed,” she added in a statement.

A parliamentary source told the Sunday Times newspaper the refit could cost up to 40 million pounds ($60 million) and last three years.

The clock is in such a dilapidated state that it is “ready to fail,” the source said.

In August, the bell started to chime up to six seconds late every hour, prompting a thorough check of the clock’s pendulum and gears.

Big Ben’s woes match those of the Houses of Parliament, which adjoin the tower and are themselves in need of restoration work that could cost as much as 5.7 billion pounds and take 32 years, according to a report published in June.

Friends Rescue Dog by Rappelling 100 Feet Into Mine Shaft

CORONA, Calif. (AP) – Two friends say they rescued a dog by rappelling more than 100 feet down a mine shaft in Southern California.

Michael Schoepf and Nick Gladden were off-roading last week near Lake Mathews, about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles, when they discovered an abandoned mine and shined a flashlight into it. They saw a pair of eyes looking up at them.

Using sections of nylon rope tied together, Gladden carefully lowered Schoepf down. Schoepf tells the Press-Enterprise newspaper that the pit bull climbed right onto him and he brought the animal to the surface.

Keri Berka of Happy Tails Animal Hospital says it treated the dog for some scratches and traumatic glaucoma in its left eye, which could have happened if it fell down the shaft.

They hope to find the animal’s owner.

American Airlines Flight Delayed In Texas by Swarming Bees

DALLAS (Reuters) – An American Airlines flight was delayed for more than hour by bees that were swarming under a plane wing when it was parked at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the company said on Thursday.

There were no bees on the plane in the Wednesday incident, which was spotted by a service crew who saw the bees buzzing under the wing.

The airline called in a local beekeeper to handle the bees so the plane from Las Vegas could turn around as a flight to Frankfort, Germany.

“Unfortunately, not long after the beekeeper left, another swarm decided to visit the same aircraft,” American Airlines spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said.

The beekeeper was called again to remove the second swarm of bees.

“This was not our first encounter with bees,” Huguely said.

Pilot Forgets Back-Up Gas Tank, Crash-Lands on Idaho Freeway

SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – A pilot crash-landed a small airplane on an Idaho freeway during the morning rush hour on Tuesday after he ran out of gas and forgot to switch to a back-up fuel tank, authorities said.

The pilot, Jon Brinkerhoff, made the emergency landing just after 7 a.m. in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84 near Boise Airport as motorists dialed 911, said Kelsie Massolio, dispatcher with Idaho State Police.

No injuries were reported during the incident, Massolio said.

Brinkerhoff was flying cargo from Washington state to Boise and was on his final approach to the airport in Idaho’s capital when he belly-landed the Cessna on the roadway, according to Idaho State Police.

State police said two right lanes of the interstate were blocked for two hours, during which time the plane was removed from the roadway.

The 30-year-old pilot from Westminster, Colorado, later told authorities he was unable to engage the landing gear when the aircraft experienced what he believed to be engine failure, Idaho troopers said.

Early findings in an investigation under way by state police and the Federal Aviation Administration suggest Brinkerhoff neglected to tap a second fuel tank after the first one emptied, Massolio said.

A Boise man towing a boat behind accidentally clipped the left wing of the aircraft before driving on.

 College Honors Retired Professor With 17 MPH Speed Limit

AMHERST, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts college has changed all the speed limit signs on campus to honor a retired mathematics professor who spent his career fascinated by the number 17. The speed limit change from 15 mph to 17 mph at Hampshire College was made at the request of the professor, David Kelly. He didn’t want a retirement party when he stepped down after 45 years on the faculty at the college in Amherst.

Kelly knows countless facts about 17, the seventh prime number. He says it has had broad applications in mathematics and other disciplines.

Kelly says the tribute “captures Hampshire’s uniqueness.”

Tiny Oakland House Moved Down The Street After Owner’s Death

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Years after a big city sprouted up around a tiny California house and its owner refused to sell the only home he’d ever known, heavy equipment rolled up to the lot. But it wasn’t there to demolish the three-bedroom house built by Lawrence Bossola’s parents. It was there to move down the street.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that a hospital next door bought the land after Bossola died in 2001. Officials were surprised when several people competed to buy and relocate the house. The new homeowners watched Sunday as workers picked up the house and then set it down on its new lot. Curious onlookers snapped pictures as it traveled down the street.

Owners Kathleen and David Stone say it cost about $75,000 to move the house and demolish the basement.