OWNER RECEIVES LETTER GRANTING DOG UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
SAUGATUCK, Mich. (AP) – Michael Ryder had been approved for $360 every week in Michigan unemployment benefits – until the state learned he’d been dogging it at the Detroit-area restaurant chain where he supposedly worked.
Ryder is a German Shepherd owned by attorney Michael Haddock on the other side of the state in Saugatuck.
WZZM-TV reports that Haddock received a benefits letter addressed to “Michael Ryder” from Michigan’s Unemployment Insurance Agency. The station says Haddock contacted the agency about the letter.
The agency says its computer system sent the letter, but the claim later was flagged as suspicious and denied.
Investigations administrator Tim Kolar wrote in a tongue-in-cheek email that he knows “first-hand it is rare for ‘man’s best friend’ to contribute financially to the household and that will continue in this instance.”
CALAMARI CALAMITY: SCIENCE CLASS ATTEMPT TO COOK SQUID FORCES EVACUATION
EPPING, N.H. (AP) – An effort to cook calamari has gone awry at a New Hampshire middle school science class, forcing the school to be evacuated.
Police in Epping, New Hampshire, say students were dissecting the squid Tuesday at Epping Middle School, and it was being cooked up as calamari.
Fire Lt. Paul St. Cyr tells the Portsmouth Herald a boiling pot of oil caused a lot of smoke. School District Superintendent Valerie McKenney said the smoke set off fire alarms.
St. Cyr said students were evacuated and moved to the elementary school to keep them out of the cold for about an hour. No one was hurt.
ROBOT MAKES COFFEE AT NEW ‘STRANGE CAFE’ IN JAPAN
TOKYO (AP) – Japan has a new robot cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista.
The robot named Sawyer debuted this week at Henna Cafe in Tokyo’s downtown business and shopping district of Shibuya. The shop’s name in Japanese means “strange cafe.”
The single-armed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer.
“Would you care for a delicious coffee?” the barista, with a screen showing a pair of cartoon eyes, asks in a flat tone. “I can make one better than human beings around here.”
It grinds the coffee beans, fills a filter and pours hot water over a paper cup for up to five people at once. A cup of brewed coffee costs 320 yen ($3) and takes a few minutes.
Sawyer can also operate an automated machine for six other hot drinks including cappuccino, hot chocolate and green tea latte.
Customers, many of them young men, took photos with their smartphones while they waited in line.
The cafe operator, travel agency H.I.S. Co., says robots can increase productivity while also entertaining customers.
“An essential point is to increase productivity,” said Masataka Tamaki, general manager of corporate planning at H.I.S. He said only one person needs to oversee the robot cafe, compared to several people needed at a regular coffee shop, so it can serve better quality coffee at a reasonable price.
Tamaki says it’s not just about efficiency. “We want the robot to entertain customers so it’s not like buying coffee at a vending machine,” he said.
Takeshi Yamamoto, a 68-year-old restaurant employee who works in the neighborhood, said his first experience with the robot cafe was very enjoyable, and his robot-made coffee was delicious.
“It’s quite rich, and tastes very good,” Yamamoto said, as he took a sip. “You can get machine-made coffee at convenience stores, too, and it’s actually good. But here, I had great fun.”
DEPUTIES: ‘BORED’ FLORIDA MAN BREAKS INTO FUNERAL HOME
SPRING HILL, Fla. (AP) – A Florida man is accused of breaking into a funeral home and stealing items including a tub of formaldehyde.
Hernando County Sheriff’s deputies went to the Demarco Family Funeral Home in Spring Hill early Friday after someone working in a nearby business saw a man carrying a crowbar going in and out of the building.
Hernando County Sheriff’s officials said in a news release that deputies arrested 29-year-old Aaron Meininger on commercial burglary and grand theft charges.
Meininger told investigators he was bored and didn’t know he was breaking into a funeral home. He said he didn’t even know what he was going to do with the items found in his car, including makeup and various instruments used in funeral preparation.
An attorney isn’t listed on jail records.
LOADED GRENADE LAUNCHER LEFT AT FLORIDA GOODWILL STORE
BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) – Talk about one heckuva an explosive donation.
Authorities say a grenade launcher, loaded with a live grenade, was left with other donated items at a Florida Goodwill store.
The Bradenton Herald reports that employees at a Goodwill store near Tampa reported the weapon on Sunday.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says the store manager told deputies that the grenade launcher had come in a shipment from another store several days earlier. The employees at the other location said they sent it along because they didn’t know what it was.
Deputies say they disposed of the active grenade in a Hazmat locker, and the launcher was stored in the agency’s property room.
It’s not clear who donated the items.
MOLLY SCHUYLER DOWNS RECORD 501 WINGS TO WIN WING BOWL
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Competitive eater Molly Schuyler gnawed her way through a record 501 chicken wings in 30 minutes to win her third Wing Bowl in Philadelphia.
Wing Bowl is usually Philadelphia’s substitute for the Eagles going to the Super Bowl.
But Friday’s competition was an unusual two-fer. It was also a rally for the Eagles on the eve of their third Super Bowl appearance.
Wing Bowl 26 drew nearly 20,000 people to the Wells Fargo Center to watch Schuyler top the old wing-eating record of 444, set in 2015.
The event was started in the 1990s by local sports radio hosts and is usually staged two days before the Super Bowl. It’s turned into a huge, boozy spectacle with a parade of flamboyant contestants and a competition for women called “Wingettes.”
On Sunday, the Eagles play the New England Patriots.
HAWAII MAN SNAGS FOOT-LONG VENOMOUS CENTIPEDE
HILO, Hawaii (AP) – A Big Island resident has a centipede that’s more than 1 foot long on display at his home.
Retired taxidermist Clayton Cambra spotted the 14.5-inch insect in woods behind his home and decided to capture it with a bucket, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
Cambra said the venomous arthropod stood up “like a cobra” when he captured it.
“Standin’ right up. It’s creepy,” Cambra said. “He crawled out of that bucket four or five times before I got him here.”
He got the centipede inside a plastic bag and froze it in his freezer.
Cambra then thawed the centipede, pinned it to a Styrofoam board and injected it with formaldehyde.
“It’s a monster. Even when it was dead, I was nervous touchin’ it,” Cambra said.
Dan Rubinoff, an entomologist and director of the University of Hawaii Insect Museum, said he thinks the bug is a Vietnamese centipede.
“It’s definitely got to be the largest individual I’ve ever seen of it,” Rubinoff said. “I get ’em in my yard all the time, 6 to maybe 7 inches. Definitely, I’ve never seen one that big.”
Rubinoff said there are other species in Southeast Asia that grow even larger.
“Those are really frightening,” Rubinoff said.
Cambra said he rejected a $1,000 offer for the centipede.
“I don’t want to sell it,” Cambra said. “I want to keep it. People collect all kinds of things. I know people on the computer (who) collect these alive and keep ’em as pets.”
A WILD RIDE: SINKHOLE SWALLOWS MAN AND HIS MOTORCYCLE
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – A motorcyclist got the ride of his life in Georgia when a sinkhole opened up in a parking lot and swallowed him and his bike.
The Augusta Chronicle reports city firefighters pulled the man from the hole at the Augusta Exchange parking lot Wednesday. The motorcyclist had minor injuries.
Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier says the hole opened up near a storm drain. The newspaper reports recent sinkholes have been blamed on leaking underground pipes.
AN ISLAND WITHOUT GAS? THAT’S HAPPENING IN NORTH CAROLINA
OCRACOKE, N.C. (AP) – It’s a good thing Ocracoke Island in North Carolina is small enough to walk or bike around. The island along the Outer Banks has lost its only gas station.
Hyde County manager Bill Rich tells The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia, that the fuel provider for Ocracoke Station shut off the pumps because the owner couldn’t pay the bills.
The station was damaged by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Rich says the owner has spent his money repairing the station while he awaits reimbursement from his insurance company.
Residents now must take the ferry to the mainland to refuel. But the good news is that a tank of gas can last for months on the small island.
Rich says the county is working with the owner to reopen the station.
COUPLE, MARRIED 70 YEARS, RENEW VOWS – THIS TIME IN CHURCH
UXBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – A Massachusetts couple have finally gotten the church wedding they always wanted – 70 years after first tying the knot.
The Telegram & Gazette reports 90-year-old Edward Gouin and 89-year-old Lena Gouin renewed their vows Saturday at the Roman Catholic Church of the Good Shepherd in Uxbridge thanks to some careful planning by their family.
Edward is Catholic and Lena is Congregationalist so a wedding in a church was barred when they were first married. Instead, they were wed in a church rectory.
Attitudes have since changed.
Edward says, “Today, it can happen.”
The World War II veteran says the secrets to a long marriage are never go to bed angry and kiss your wife every time you leave the house.
The couple have three children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
UNICYCLE THIEF SOUGHT IN SAN FRANCISCO; REWARD OFFERED
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Someone at the San Francisco airport stole a 7-foot (2.13-meter) unicycle used by the Red Panda Acrobat for her plate-juggling routine and the legendary performer is offering a $2,000 reward to get it back.
KTVU-TV reports that police on Wednesday released surveillance photos from Jan. 24 that show a man wheeling away a black bag containing the $25,000 unicycle belonging to acrobat Rong Niu.
Niu is known for juggling plates on her head and feet while balancing on a unicycle during halftime at sporting events.
She is a regular performer for the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. She’s also appeared on America’s Got Talent.
Niu’s agent, Pat Figley, says she’s had that unicycle for 30 years and is heartbroken.
2 PAWS UP! ARTS VENUE INVITES DOGS TO CANINE-INSPIRED FILMS
GENEVA, N.Y. (AP) – A New York arts venue is inviting people to bring their dogs to the movies.
WHEC says the Smith Opera House in Geneva will be showing four canine-inspired films from Feb. 11-17.
Dogs will be admitted for free – and will even get treats. But they’ll they have to remain on a leash.
The movies are “Best in Show,” ”The Artist,” ”Bolt” and – of course – “Must Love Dogs.”
LIFE’S A DITCH: THEFT SUSPECT BUSTED AFTER TRUCK GETS STUCK
BEAUFORT, N.C. (AP) – Some good Samaritans who came to help a North Carolina man get his truck out of a ditch discovered the truck held some items stolen from their own store. And when police were summoned, they discovered the man had stolen a big truck to help free his own stuck vehicle.
That’s according to the Carteret County Sheriff’s Office. Maj. Jason Wank said deputies were called Friday after workers at an auto parts store tried to help 27-year-old Taylor Russell Valentine of Morehead City.
Wank said they discovered items stolen from their business. He also said Valentine had stolen a large truck and used it to try to free his own truck.
Valentine is jailed on multiple charges, with bond set at $20,000. It’s not known if he has an attorney.
DUCK! GOOSE! DEAD GOOSE FALLS FROM SKY, KNOCKS HUNTER UNCONSCIOUS
EASTON, Md. (AP) – A waterfowl hunter is in stable condition after a dead goose fell from the sky and knocked him unconscious.
Robert Meilhammer of Dorchester County was hunting with three other people when one of them fired at a flock of Canada geese overhead in Easton, near the Miles River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson said a falling goose hit Meilhammer, knocking him out and causing head and facial injuries.
The Washington Post reports that when he came to, he knew who he was, but “little else,” according to a Natural Resources police officer.
The agency tweeted Friday that Meilhammer was in stable condition and awaiting more tests at a Baltimore trauma center.
MAINE CITY’S ATTEMPT TO BREAK BEER CAN RECORD COMES UP SHORT
BANGOR, Maine (AP) – Residents in Bangor, Maine, came just 28 beer cans short of setting a world record.
Attendees at the city’s annual Chamber Dinner last week were attempting to break the record for simultaneously opening beer cans. WABI-TV reports the vast majority of the beers were supplied by Geaghan Brothers Brewing, and hundreds of attendees did the honors of opening them at the same time.
The Brewer-based beer maker says it sent video of the attempt to Guinness World Records and got word that the effort did not break the record.
The record was set in Japan in 2016 with 1,149 cans opened simultaneously. The Bangor attempt managed 1,122, which is a record for the city itself.
2-TOED SLOTH BORN AT DENVER ZOO MARKS FIRST BIRTH OF 2018
DENVER (AP) – A two-toed sloth has been born at the Denver Zoo.
The Denver Post reports that the zoo’s sloth named Charlotte gave birth to the baby on Sunday. The mother and her baby made their public debut together on Thursday.
The baby sloth is the zoo’s first announced birth in 2018.
Zoo officials have yet to name the baby or announce its gender.
The baby clung to its mother immediately after birth and will remain attached to her almost exclusively for at least six months.
Sloths are nocturnal animals that spend 15 to 20 hours per day sleeping. They tend to become active from an hour after sunset until about two hours before sunrise.
CINCINNATI ZOO’S CELEBRITY HIPPO SUPER BOWL PICK: THE EAGLES
CINCINNATI (AP) – Fiona is going with her feathered friends in the Super Bowl.
The Cincinnati Zoo’s celebrity hippopotamus has picked the Philadelphia Eagles over a New England Patriots in Sunday’s big game.
The zoo posted a video Thursday showing the one-year-old hippo nosing around a cardboard box painted with a Patriots logo.
But she then made a late game adjustment and started chomping on a pile lettuce perched on top of a green box with the Eagles logo.
It’s been a big couple of weeks for Fiona. She just celebrated her first birthday a week ago.
The prematurely born hippo has grown from a dangerously low 29 pounds to nearly 700 pounds now.