Watercooler Stories

By United Press International  |  Aug. 10, 2006 at 6:30 AM
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Swordfish caught off coast of England

BLYTH, England, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A 6-foot-6 in swordfish was caught off the coast of Blyth in Northumberland, England, thousands of miles from the its natural habitat.

Fisherman Peter Dent caught the 58-pound fish less than a mile off the shore of Blyth, The Telegraph reported Wednesday.

"It was thrashing about in the net, it was going wild and at first I thought it was a shark -- then I saw its sword," Dent said. "This is the first one I have ever seen and I was fortunate to catch it, but you could say the swordfish wasn't so lucky. It was exciting, but these waters are changing and you can get a few surprises these days."

Dent said he sold the fish to a local restaurant.

Mark Watson, owner of Blyth Fish, where the swordfish was packed in ice, said the catch was rare.

"I've never seen anything else like it here and everyone else has said the same. It's the kind of thing you see in Spain, but not here."

Karaoke helps veterans bar stay afloat

CHICAGO, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Chicago's American Legion bar, one of a dying breed of clubs aimed at veterans, has found a way to keep profits flowing with a monthly karaoke night.

The F.D.R. American Legion Post No. 923 has found financial success with its once-a-month karaoke night aimed at singers in their 20s, The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

"That first night the place was packed, but the vets weren't expecting it," master of ceremonies Rory Lake said. "By the time we were done, we had cleaned them out. They sold every beer they had in the bar."

The revenue from karaoke night helps the veterans club stay in business while many of its counterparts have closed down.

"Some Friday nights, it could be as few as two of us sitting at the bar," said bartender and Vietnam War veteran Roger Hartman. "There's idle talk from time to time that we should sell the place, because it's likely a very valuable piece of property, and move somewhere else. But where would we go?"

Woman, 94, fought back at purse snatcher

CHICAGO, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A purse-snatcher didn't know what he was getting into when he tried to pluck a purse from the left shoulder of a 94-year-old Chicago woman.

Police said the woman struggled with the assailant, described as a 30- to 35-year-old man, when he tried to pull the purse off of her left arm Tuesday as she was getting into her car, The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday.

The victim was taken to Holy Cross Hospital where she was treated for arm and face bruises and was in stable condition.

Police said they have not yet caught the assailant, who managed to escape with the bag.

N.J. state dirt push inspired by lawns

TRENTON, N.J., Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The originator of a campaign to name a New Jersey state dirt has said the failed initiative was inspired by the lawns of state residents.

David Friedman, head of the Ocean County soil-conservation district, said he was inspired to push for downer soil to be named the state dirt by developers who used tightly-packed soil for the lawns of new homes, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Friedman said the soil used by developers is too tight for grass to sink roots deep enough to absorb water from below the dirt, so it requires a great deal more water to keep the lawn healthy. However, since the soil is packed so tightly, much of the water runs off into drains, carrying lawn fertilizer into bodies of water where it creates algae that can be harmful to fish.

Downer soil, however, is spongy and porous in its natural state, allowing it to absorb water and grass roots.

The New Jersey Assembly voted unanimously to make downer, the most common dirt in the state, the official state dirt, but the measure was never even introduced on the Senate floor.

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