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The Odd Truth, Feb. 10, 2005

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Joey Arak.

Chew With Your Mouth Closed!

ATHOL, Idaho - Green light. Red Light. Lights out.

In an effort to quiet down the lunchroom chatter at Athol Elementary, a stoplight has been mounted that monitors decibel levels and signals teachers to turn the lights out when kids get too noisy.

The stoplight is mounted on the lunchroom wall and goes from green to yellow, flashes, and then turns red.

The sound meter can be adjusted to go off at anywhere from 54 decibels to more than 100 decibels. For comparison, noise from a washing machine is about 75 decibels.

The move comes because of the lunchroom's poor acoustics and tile floors. "The sound doesn't have anything to soak into," Principal Connie McGee said.

When the light turns red, the lunchroom stays dark and youngsters have to stay silent until the Talk Light resets and turns green again.

"The ones who continue to talk have to write 50 times: 'I will not talk during lights out,"' said Renee Johnson, a lunchroom supervisor.

Not everyone is cheering. Fourth-grader Ethan Stiles recently grumbled as the light turned red just after he sat down to eat his lunch.

"It's stupid and it stinks," he said.

Party On Wheels

ROCK HILL, S.C. - Police found more than they bargained for when they stopped a U-Haul truck with a burned-out taillight.

Instead of furniture in the back, police on Monday found a rolling keg party with about 20 people drinking whiskey and beer. Eleven people were charged with underage drinking.

"They all kind of froze and didn't know what to do, I guess," officer Robert Marshall said.

The partygoers told police they rented the truck for someone's 21st birthday party because the bars were closed. The moving party was traveling streets without a particular destination.

The truck's driver first told police he was hauling a couch for a friend, according to police reports. But Marshall said he became suspicious after hearing scratching noises in the back of the vehicle.

The truck's driver was charged with reckless driving because the people in the back could have been injured, police said. Officers allowed the partygoers to call for rides and no one was arrested.

Life Saved By Bar Brawl

NAPLES, Fla. - A beer-bottle barroom attack ended up being a lifesaver for a Florida woman.

While doctors were examining her after the assault, they discovered a brain tumor that could have killed her. The tumor was removed and 64-year-old Sally Hampton has fully recovered.

She was attacked on the Fourth of July at a bar in southwestern Florida. According to prosecutors, it happened as she was trying to help clear the place when the bartender wanted to close up. A man bashed her with a bottle and then kicked her in the head and body after she fell.

Her attacker was sentenced to 12-and a-half years in prison.

Birth Of A Salesman

GIBSONIA, Pa. - Corny as it sounds, a Cub Scout has set a national record for selling popcorn.

Ryan Cenk, 10, of the Pittsburgh suburb of Richland Township, sold $25,006 worth of Trail's End popcorn products, popping the old record in the Scouts' annual popcorn sale by about $5,000.

Cenk more than doubled his sales with one call to ATM Corp., a company that provides mortgage-lending services. The company's vice president heard the scout's spiel and decided the popcorn tins would make perfect gifts for employees. The company bought $13,500 worth of popcorn.

Ryan took the phone away from his ear, looked up and said, "Mom, he wants 450 of the three-way tins," his mother, Colleen Cenk, said. "I got on the extension to make sure there was no misunderstanding."

All told, Cenk sold about 10 tons of popcorn.

As a reward, Trail's End is flying Ryan to Walt Disney World. He also has been asked to speak at the company's annual sales meeting in Orlando, Fla.

eBay Nixes Baby Name Auction

SYDNEY, Australia - Online auction site eBay on Wednesday axed an ad from a woman attempting to sell "naming rights" for her unborn baby girl for least $750,000.

As of Wednesday, with six days of the seven-day sale period already expired, the woman, whose identity was not known, had not received any bids.

In the advertisement for the auction, the woman offered prospective sellers an "opportunity to be part of HISTORY in the making."

"We are taking bids on the naming, advertising and promotional rights to my unborn BABY GIRL!!"

The successful bidder would have gotten the right to choose the child's first name only for the first five years of her life, the eBay ad said, adding the child is due March 1.

But late Wednesday morning, eBay canceled the ad, because it also said the child and mother would be available for promotional activities for the winning bidder.

"We have ended the listing on the grounds that it is an inappropriate item and as the child's welfare and safety may be compromised," said eBay spokesman in Australia Daniel Feiler.

Nothing More Than Feelings?

The death of a loved one really can cause a broken heart.

Doctors at Johns Hopkins University say a tragic or shocking event can stun the heart and produce classic heart-attack-like symptoms, including chest pain, shortness of breath and fluid in the lungs. But unlike a heart attack, the condition is reversible.

Patients often are hospitalized but typically recover within days after little more than bed rest and fluids, and suffer no permanent damage to their hearts.

Doctors have dubbed the condition "broken heart syndrome." The study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Valentine Recipe: Chocolate, Drugs

AMARILLO, Texas - Being high on love has nothing to do with the heart-shaped candies seized by Texas troopers. The Texas Department of Public Safety reports the nine pounds of Valentine's Day chocolates tested positive for a drug made from psychedelic mushrooms. Troopers say they found the trippy chocolates when they pulled over a San Francisco man during a routine traffic stop on I-40 near Amarillo. Craig Allen Moreland was busted on drug charges.

Town Burned By Lava

SOAP LAKE, Wash. - A giant lava lamp is turning out to be a lot of trouble, even if it was free. The 50-foot-tall lamp once stood in New York's Times Square as an ad for Target stores. The company donated it to the town of Soap Lake, Washington, where officials hope it will become a tourist attraction. But the world's largest lamp arrived in Soap Lake in a zillion pieces, on four flatbed trailers. Project coordinator Brent Blake says they'll need a genius engineer to put it back together. The huge lava lamp was fashioned from 30,000 pounds of metal, plastic, fiberglass and lights. Blake says the town now has to raise thousands of dollars for the reassembly project.