For some folks, Disneyland and Walt Disney World are more than amusement parks. Take Jodie Jackson Wells of Boca Raton, Florida. In 2009, after her mother died, Wells smuggled in some of her ashes to Disney World and spread them on a favorite spot of her mom's along the It's a Small World ride. Later, she leapt over a barricade at Cinderella's Castle and flung ashes from both hands as she cavorted on the lawn. "Anyone who knew my mom knew Disney was her happy place," Wells told The Wall Street Journal. However, for the theme parks, the spreading of ashes presents a constant cleanup challenge, referred to by the code "HEPA cleanup" among custodians. (Other secret signals are Code V for vomit and Code U for urine.) Alex Parone of Saratoga Springs, New York, sprinkled his mother's ashes in a flowerbed, then boarded It's a Small World. "I was still crying. That song is playing over and over again, and there are those happy little animatronic things. I remember thinking, 'This is weird.'" But a Disney spokesperson said: "This type of behavior is strictly prohibited and unlawful," and the Anaheim Police Department confirmed that spreading ashes without permission is a misdemeanor. To add insult to injury, when cremation residue is found on rides, they have to be shut down (riders are told there are "technical difficulties") for cleaning. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/24/2018]
What Would Your Mother Think?
In what can only be described as a "shaking my head" incident, an unnamed employee of the U.S. Geological Survey invited malware into the government agency's computer system by visiting more than 9,000 porn websites on his work computer, according to an inspector general's report. The Washington Post reported on Oct. 30 that many of the websites were Russian, and the malware spread to the entire network at the USGS. The employee also saved images from the sites on a USB drive and personal cellphone, which also contained malware. The Office of the Inspector General made recommendations to the USGS about preventing future malware infections, and a spokesperson for the IG's office said the employee no longer works at USGS. [The Washington Post, 10/30/2018]
Who's Crying Now?
After the package bomb scares in New York and Florida, things were tense in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early morning hours of Oct. 30 when mailroom employees at Duke Energy discovered a suspicious incoming package. They welcomed the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police and the bomb squad with "Open Arms," and the building and surrounding roads were evacuated as officials investigated. But WBTV "Faithfully" reported that the small, hand-addressed manila envelope was "Worlds Apart" from a mail bomb: It merely contained a cassette tape with songs from the band Journey. To which we say, "Don't Stop Believin'" in your fellow '80s music-loving humans. [WBTV, 10/31/2018]
Latest Religious Messages
If "Pokemon Go" has overextended your short attention span, up your game with the Vatican's "Follow JC Go," a new augmented reality mobile game in which players collect saints and other notable Bible figures as they move through the world. Pope Francis has approved the game, which asks players to answer questions about the characters and donate to charities to earn game currency. The Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported on Oct. 21 that the app is available only in Spanish, but other languages are on the way. [Corriere Della Sera, 10/21/2018]
Two mothers are suing the Adventure Learning Center day care in St. Louis over an incident in December 2016 when teachers organized a "fight club" among preschoolers. According to Fox 2 in St. Louis, the idea was conceived as a way to entertain the kids while the heater was broken. The 10-year-old sibling of one of the preschoolers was in the room next door and captured video of the fights with an iPad, then texted the video to his mom, Nicole Merseal, who believes the fight was broken up only because she called the director of the center. The video shows one teacher jumping up and down in excitement as another one puts "Incredible Hulk" fists on the kids, and cameras at the center recorded more than 30 minutes of fighting. While the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office declined to prosecute, the teachers were fired and the center has been subject to increased inspections, resulting in 26 violations. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in December. [Fox 2, 10/29/2018]
Construction workers in Valdosta, Georgia, were rattled on Oct. 30 when they tore down a second-story wall in a turn-of-the-20th-century building to find about 1,000 human teeth secreted inside. The T.B. Converse Building, constructed in 1900, was originally home to a dentist, Dr. Clarence Whittington, reported the Valdosta Daily Times. In 1911, Whittington was joined by Dr. Lester G. Youmans. Ellen Hill, director of Valdosta Main Street, said two other Georgia towns have had buildings, also home to dentists' offices, where teeth have been found in the walls. "I'm not sure if it was a common practice" to deposit extracted teeth in the walls, she said. Valdosta police said there was no evidence of a crime. [Valdosta Daily Times, 10/31/2018]
WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported on Oct. 30 about a new fashion accessory: the Skin Heel. These thigh-high boots feature moles, hair and uneven skin tones, and the shoes are meant to look like surgically altered feet, with toes and long, realistic-looking skin-colored spikes on the heels. Conceived by Montreal, Canada, designers Hannah Rose Dalton and Steven Raj Bhaskaran, the creepy footwear will set buyers back $10,000. Fortunately, they've produced only one pair so far. [WPVI, 10/30/2018]
In the spirit of "be careful what you wish for," a monkey in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh, India, shimmied down a wall and stole a venomous cobra from a snake charmer at the Barbanki temple on Oct. 26. The man had just removed the snake from a basket when the monkey grabbed it and ran back up the wall, according to United Press International. The snake charmer tried to climb on a vendor's cart to chase the monkey, but it got away. No word on the monkey's fate. [United Press International, 10/29/2018]
Doctors at the Hai Duong Hospital in Hai Duong Province, Vietnam, treated a man who arrived complaining of pain in his ear. Using an endoscope to look inside his ear canal, they found the cause: a live cricket digging around in the duct. United Press International reported on Oct. 26 that the doctors were able to successfully remove the cricket. [United Press International, 10/26/2018]
When October Books, a shop in Southampton, England, got ready to move just up the street into a new building on Oct. 28, about 250 people showed up as volunteers to form a human chain, handing the shop's more than 2,000 books 160 yards from one location to the other. "It's amazing. The power of community coming together and achieving something like this," said Jani Franck, who participated in the chain. October Books was forced to move after a rent increase in its old building. "It was a tremendous show of support ... and we're moved and incredibly touched by it," Clare Diaper, who works at the store, told the Guardian. [The Guardian, 10/29/2018]