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The Odd Truth, June 17, 2003

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum. A new collection of stories is published each weekday. On weekends, you can read a week's worth of The Odd Truth.

Pea Spill Clogs Highway

LONDON - A truck spilled 18 tons of peas on a busy highway in eastern England, bringing traffic to a standstill for more than 12 hours, police said Tuesday.

The truck overturned Monday night after it collided with a bus near Grantham in Lincolnshire.

The 23 people on the bus were not seriously hurt, but traffic was diverted while authorities cleaned up the millions of peas. The road reopened early Tuesday.

Dart In Head Doesn't Sink Duck

VIRGINIA, Minn. - A duck on northeastern Minnesota's Silver Lake isn't letting a dart in its head stop it from eating, swimming, or paddling away from rescue attempts.

Authorities don't know who shot the duck with a metal blowgun dart.

The bird has been unable to remove the shaft from its left cheek behind its bill — though it has been seen scratching at the dart with its feet.

DNR personnel tried unsuccessfully yesterday to capture the mallard.

The Mesabi Humane Society has received several calls about the duck. Animal control officers also have been checking on the duck, but nobody has been able to get near it yet.

Reeling In Rubbers

MILWAUKEE - It's not the sort of catch a fisherman likes to boast about — hundreds of used condoms floating in the Milwaukee harbor. Officials at the Jones Island Wastewater Treatment Plant say an angler made the rather disgusting discovery. Some suspect a new $8.5 million filtration system isn't up to the task. But officials say there's no proof of just where the condoms came from. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District says it will install additional filters. Workers will also be used to scoop condoms out of the wastewater stream with fish nets.

Rescue Boat Saves Doe In Distress

OSLO, Norway - The rescue boat Bergen Kreds is ready to respond instantly when the call comes to save a life, even if it's a deer in distress.

A small doe was spotted swimming in the waters of Huharbor, a west coast port town 190 mile west of the capital, Oslo, and wasn't able to climb ashore.

"We got a call from the harbor authority that there was a deer stuck in the water," machinist Espen Fjeldli said from aboard the Bergen Kreds Tuesday.

He said the boat sped to the scene to rescue the 33-pound doe on Monday.

"We couldn't find it at first, but then we finally spotted its rump on a ledge under the wharf," Fjeldli said.

The ship's captain, Truls Pedersen, donned his wet suit, jumped into the water and pulled the animal, dubbed "Bambi" by the Norwegian media, to safety.

"We managed to get it on board. It was really trembling, maybe from cold, so we wrapped it up in towels, and then it was all right," Fjeldli said.

According to the Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue, a nonprofit that operates 29 rescue ships along the Nordic country's thousands of miles of coastline, it was the first time an animal was rescued.

Burned-Out Broker Opens Hot Dog Stand

HOLLAND, Mich. - Former investment broker Jim Piersma is trying to corner a new market — with a corner hot dog stand. He's peddling franks from a cart in Holland, Michigan. He notes it's a lot less stressful than stock speculation. Piersma says he always dreamed of opening a restaurant, but the startup costs were too high. So, he's starting small. In addition to selling dogs to the weekday lunch crowd, Piersma is also the hot dog man at a free concert series in the park. He says it's a natural combination — blankets, music and franks.

Armchairs, TV Remotes At Father's Day Mass

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. - Relax, recline - and pray.

Some worshippers at Evangelical Free Church didn't have to kneel at Sunday's services. They instead sat back in special seats of their own — rocking armchairs.

The royal treatment didn't stop there. They also enjoyed refreshing drinks — pop, coffee or water — and were given TV remote controls to hold so they would feel at home.

It was all part of the church's way of honoring fathers in the congregation on Father's Day, said the Rev. Gary Schulte, an associate pastor.

Among those chosen to sit in the chairs were the oldest and youngest dads in attendance, those who coached numerous sports and the father who most recently changed a diaper.

Seven fathers enjoyed the armchairs at the church's early service, while five more were pampered at the later service.

"It was a total surprise," said Shay McGowan, who was honored for coaching more than five sports for his two sons and daughter.

Justin Rogers also got to sit in one of the seats. He had changed his 1-year-old daughter's diaper an hour and 15 minutes before church started.

"To sit in a recliner in church, what's better than that?" he asked.

Bartender Sues Harrah's Over Makeup Rule

RENO - A Reno bartender fired for refusing to wear makeup is taking her case to a federal appeal's court.

Darlene Jespersen was fired in August 2000 from Harrah's Reno, after working there for 21 years. She maintained that wearing makeup should be a personal choice.

She sued Harrah's in federal court, alleging the casino's "Personal Best" program was discriminatory and subjected women to sex-based stereotypes as a condition of employment.

Senior U.S. District Judge Edward Reed ruled against her in December, saying casino's appearance standards were evenly applied to both sexes.

The New York-based Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is handling her appeal, which was filed today in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Before the original suit was filed, Harrah's offered Jespersen her job back without making her follow the policy, but she declined.

Oh, The Irony!

VEVEY, Switzerland - Food giant Nestle SA, whose empire includes chocolates and sugar-sweetened ice tea, said Tuesday it was joining with toothpaste maker Colgate-Palmolive Co. to market oral-care products.

The plan of the joint venture is to "pursue on a worldwide basis the development, marketing, distribution and sale of a portfolio of portable oral care products" that "taste good, clean teeth and freshen breath," the Swiss- and U.S.-based companies said.

The initial product of the collaboration will be Colgate Dental Gum, in its current test markets in Britain, Ireland and Canada, they said. The companies noted that dental gum and similar products are sold alongside regular gum and candy.

Expansion will depend on the success in the initial markets, they said.

Candy companies see huge potential in products that address health and cosmetic issues as well as taste. But not all such efforts have worked. Wrigley this year ended a two-year effort to market a heartburn relief gum, Surpass, in response to weak sales. The Chicago-based company has closed its health-care division.

Nestle and Colgate-Palmolive said their agreement, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to become effective early next year.

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