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How bizarre
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-07-09 09:04:33
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Ex-hot dog eating champion held in US

bizarre01_06Former hot dog speed-eating champion Takeru Kobayashi has been arrested at this year's event in New York. The six-time champion, who did not compete in this year's event, was arrested as he tried to get on the stage after the competition.

Mr Kobayashi had refused to sign a contract with the speed-eating body Major League Eating and was barred from the event at Coney Island. Joey "Jaws" Chestnut won the contest for the fourth year running. Mr Kobayashi, the thin Japanese contender who smashed all previous US records in 2001, jumped a barrier and tried to get up on the stage while the crowd chanted: "Let him eat!"

He briefly resisted police attempts to eject him from the stage, grabbing a barrier as they pulled him away. The 32-year-old has been charged with resisting arrest, trespass and obstructing governmental administration. Mr Kobayashi, nicknamed "The Tsunami", had written on his Japanese-language blog that he didn't want to sign a contract that would prevent him from entering speed eating competitions run by other federations.


The paper trail

bizarre02_400_02A local mom wanted to find out exactly how much paper is toted home from school by her three children, so she saved every work sheet, permission slip, band notice and announcement that was handed out during the 2009-2010 school year. More than 3,800 pieces of paper later, Meredith O'Brien got her answer. "I like hearing about things going on at the schools, but from a realistic perspective, I could not get a handle on these papers," she said yesterday.

O'Brien, who tracked the results of her paper-counting quest on a blog hosted by Wicked Local Parents, said she started the school year with a plan. She bought three large colour-coded binders and a magazine rack from Pottery Barn to organize her kids' papers. "It initially worked, but there would come a point when the system would go caboose," she said. "My kids would say I forgot about a permission slip or I'd miss a soccer deadline."

"This is not meant to be an attack on the schools, but I do think some of the more important paperwork, like permission slips, should be prioritized." O'Brien said she previously blogged about the amount of paper trucked home by her three kids - a third-grader at Woodward Elementary School and two fifth-graders at Neary Elementary School. "I'd whine about it on my blog, but this year I made up my mind to put some data behind it," she said. "I decided I'd keep everything, stack it, chronicle it and categorize it as best I could." The results were skewed from month-to-month as more than 1,500 pages of paper came home during the last two weeks of school. Other observations, such as the two 14-page brochures sent from the state regarding flu season and the 500 pages handed out by Neary School officials, did not surprise O'Brien.

"If there was any way to make this information more electronic, I'd be all for it," she said. "The schools have put out a weekly electronic newsletter, but I know that doesn't work for everyone."


Banning sale of pets except fish

bizarre03_400_04Sell a guinea pig, go to jail. That's the law under consideration by San Francisco's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare. If the commission approves the ordinance at its meeting tonight, San Francisco could soon have what is believed to be the country's first ban on the sale of all pets except fish.

That includes dogs, cats, hamsters, mice, rats, chinchillas, guinea pigs, birds, snakes, lizards and nearly every other critter, or, as the commission calls them, companion animals. "People buy small animals all the time as an impulse buy, don't know what they're getting into, and the animals end up at the shelter and often are euthanized," said commission Chairwoman Sally Stephens. "That's what we'd like to stop."

San Francisco residents who want a pet would have to go to another city, adopt one from a shelter or rescue group, or find one through the classifieds. The Board of Supervisors would have final say on the matter. But not before pet store owners unleash a cacophony of howling, squeaking and squawking. "It's terrible. A pet store that can't sell pets? It's ridiculous," said John Chan, manager of Pet Central on Broadway, which has been in business 30 years. "We'd have to close."

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