Watercooler Stories

Oct. 31, 2008 at 6:30 AM
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Girl finds $1,000 at Salvation Army

HONOLULU, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The parents of an 11-year-old Kona, Hawaii, girl who found $1,000 hidden inside a used video at a Salvation Army store said the girl turned in the money.

Terry Mercier said his daughter, Mikela, was checking for mold on an exercise tape featuring fitness guru Richard Simmons at the store when she discovered $1,000 in $100 bills hidden in the video's cardboard jacket, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported.

"Only Mikela would open a Richard Simmons video," Terry Mercier said.

Mikela Mercier said discovering the money gave her "chicken skin."

"When I discovered the money, I immediately looked for my mom, who was inside the dressing room, and I told her, 'We've got to give it to the man,'" she told Salvation Army bosses.

Store manager Jimmy Thennes praised the young girl for her honesty,

"It's truly remarkable how a young girl like Mikela instinctively knew the right thing to do. I truly admire her honesty," Thennes said.

Terry Mercier said his daughter "is happy to know (the money is) going to a fund to help needy people at Christmas."

UFO sightings reported in Texas

STEPHENVILLE, Texas, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Residents of North Central Texas have reported a fresh wave of UFO sightings in the wake of a string of January sightings that made national headlines.

The Stephenville Empire-Tribune said dozens of residents in and near Erath County reported strange lights in the sky Oct. 23, the same night the U.S. military confirmed F-16s flying in the area, the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram reported.

"I think more people are willing to come forward now that more people are talking about this," said Whitney White-Ashley, a reporter with the Empire-Tribune.

Alejandro Rojas with the Mutual UFO Network, a nationwide organization dedicated to scientific study of UFO sightings, said most of the reports were of an oval shape with lights around the outside. He said the group has requested radar data from the F-16s and has been interviewing witnesses.

"These are descriptions that were sent into our Web site the night of the sighting, so they could not have been something just copied from media coverage," Rojas said.

The sightings come after a flurry of reports Jan. 8 of an object above the Texas cities of Dublin and Stephenville that did not behave like a conventional aircraft.

Man's dog gets card to vote

ALBUQUERQUE, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- An Albuquerque man said he was shocked to receive a voter registration card for his dog after he jokingly filled out a form at Wal-Mart.

Don Pizzolato said he filled out a voter registration form for his dog, Tuckup Koepke, with a phony birth date and Social Security number, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

However, Pizzolato said he never expected the form to result in an actual voter registration for his dog. He received a card for the canine only weeks after filling out the form.

"I fully expected the form to be returned to me," Pizzolato said.

He said he feared the situation was symptomatic of a larger problem that could lead to voter fraud.

"I just have one data point to go off of, but in my opinion, if it's this easy to thwart the system, I'm sure it's not an isolated case," he said.

Pizzolato said Tuckup Koepke will not be voting in the upcoming election.

County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver contacted law enforcement officials after reading about the matter on a Web site.

Voter registration fraud is a fourth-degree felony in New Mexico, the Journal said.

Obama responds to letter from young boy

NEWTON, Mass., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama personally responded to a letter sent by a 7-year-old boy in Newton, Mass., the boy's mother says.

Amy Mondschein said her son, Aron, had written to the Illinois senator as part of a class assignment and became a "little celebrity" at the Solomon Schechter Day School when a response arrived last week, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant said.

"They were all excited," Mondschein said. "The whole school was abuzz. They took a picture of (Aron). He was like a little celebrity."

The proud mother said her family rarely discusses politics but Aron has shown an interest in the upcoming presidential election.

In his letter to the potential future voter, Obama discussed the children's book character "Flat Stanley" that motivated the letter-writing assignment, the Courant reported.

"Sometimes I get a little nervous before talking in front of a crowd, but 'Flat Stanley' helped me practice the speech," the presidential hopeful wrote. "He made me recite it in front of him and then even gave me some advice so the speech would go smoothly. 'Flat Stanley' is really a great coach."

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