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Watercooler Stories

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United Press International

88-year-old teacher not about to quit

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif., May 13 (UPI) -- An 88-year-old English teacher, who recently became the oldest full-time teacher in the Los Angeles area, is revered for her energy and enthusiasm.

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The Los Angeles Times reported on Rose Gilbert, who has taught for more than 50 years, first at University High School in West Los Angeles and then at Palisades Charter High School in Pacific Palisades. At Palisades, she is beloved by both students and other teachers for her enthusiasm, particularly when teaching classic works like F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and Albert Camus' "The Stranger."

Gilbert's second marriage was to Sam Gilbert, a successful door lock inventor and UCLA booster. The wealth she married into allowed her to travel the globe extensively. But the 1987 death of Gilbert's husband brought scandal, as just days after his death he was charged in a federal indictment with racketeering and money laundering in connection with a Florida marijuana smuggling ring.

"She has so many stories, and she knows what she's talking about," said student Erica Pool.

Standing just 5-feet tall, Gilbert told the Times she is looking forward to another year of teaching come fall.

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Traffic tickets issued by the thousands

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y., May 13 (UPI) -- More than 2,000 people in the city of Niagara Falls, N.Y., were erroneously sent final warnings for traffic tickets, causing widespread confusion.

WGRZ-TV in Buffalo, N.Y., reported that warnings were mailed out regarding tickets from as long ago as 1991.

"The city of Niagara Falls mailed out thousands of traffic tickets last week," said an area resident. "Some date back to 1991. I received one from 2003 for my 31-foot sailboat ticketed in a fire zone. How can you defend a traffic ticket from 1991?"

The city reportedly is sending out letters to explain what happened. Authorities expect the error to cost the city about $1,700.


Grandmother spends Mother's Day skydiving

FLORA, Ind., May 14 (UPI) -- A 79-year-old Michigan woman celebrated Mother's Day by free falling out of an airplane.

The Kalamazoo (Mich.) Gazette reported on Sylvia DeVries, grandmother of 10 and great-grandmother of two, who chose to skydive as a dual celebration of Mother's Day and her 80th birthday on May 22.

DeVries told the Gazette that at first she was concerned about not doing everything right, but after a while she was able to enjoy the birds-eye view of the Indiana countryside.

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The idea reportedly came to DeVries a few months ago when she was talking to her daughter-in-law about how she wanted to get the whole family together.

"I said, 'If I could get the whole family together, I'd jump out of an airplane,' having no idea it would be done," she said.

Afterward, her son reportedly called her bluff and found a skydiving facility in Flora, Ind. DeVries's son told the Gazette his mother had always been a little eccentric.


Men warned against chatting up lone women

EDINBURGH, Scotland, May 13 (UPI) -- Police in Scotland are warning the country's men against talking to or glancing at women who are out alone at night.

The Scotsman reported police issued a leaflet recently in which men are warned that women can experience an attempt at conversation or an admiring look as threatening, particularly if she is alone.

"Men can sometimes frighten women without meaning to," the leaflet says. "A woman may be nervous when she is out on her own -- especially after dark or in a lonely or enclosed place, or on buses or trains."

While the warning has been welcomed by several women's rights groups, the Scottish Women's Rural Institutes criticized it, saying it could lead to a sad, untrusting society. Others argue there is nothing wrong with a little friendly chatting at a bus or train stop.

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The Scotsman reported that the leaflet was issued in response to the rise of reported rapes from 596 in 1997-98 to 975 in 2005-2006.

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