Watercooler Stories

May 14, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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Stolen turtles returned to Fla. sanctuary

DAVIE, Fla., May 12 (UPI) -- Two turtles stolen from the Davie Wildlife Center in Florida were returned anonymously five days later in good condition, wildlife officials said.

Officials with the center believe Zippy, an orange and brown Eastern box turtle, and Florida, a Florida box turtle, were stolen by two rowdy teenagers who had threatened to kill the animals May 5, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Friday. When workers returned to the center May 6, Zippy and Florida were gone.

The sanctuary's receptionist received a phone call Friday from what sounded like an older man, who said, "Your two turtles are in a blue pillowcase underneath the sign in your overflow parking lot."

Laura Wyatt, the center's wildlife curator, said she was concerned about Zippy's condition because his bottom shell is permanently cracked and held together by zip ties.

"His shell is very, very fragile," Wyatt said. "He's an animal that should not be picked up.

"They will definitely be getting an absolutely wonderful dinner tonight," Wyatt said. "They will get a nice big salad with all kinds of fish and worms on it."

Davie Police Capt. Dale Engle said authorities are searching for the teens, who, if found, could face charges of grand theft and burglary.

Cameron auctions beloved cricket bat

LONDON, May 12 (UPI) -- An autographed cricket bat British Prime Minister David Cameron called his most prized possession has been auctioned off for charity, The Daily Telegraph said.

A source told the newspaper the bat, which was signed by India's legendary Sachin Tendulkar, fetched 3,400 pounds ($5,500) for the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, which is raising money to build a new cricket venue in the African nation.

The sale should reduce some of the prime minister's anxiety over the coveted bat. He had joked, sort of, at a recent gathering of the Conservative Friends of India that he had seen his wife, Samantha, once using the bat to knock the ball around at Chequers.

"I said, 'No, darling, put it down, this is probably the most valuable possession I have,'" he told his audience. The Telegraph said only a few of the members of the mainly Indian audience thought he was overreacting and laughed.

Lincoln's sword replaced with replica

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., May 13 (UPI) -- A Chicago sculptor created a replacement for a copper sword that was stolen and broken from Abraham Lincoln's tomb, officials said.

The 3-foot sword was stolen from Lincoln's tomb last fall by a teenager, the Chicago Tribune reported.

However, when police caught up to the thief, the sword was broken in two.

Marshall Svendsen, director of an art production house, volunteered to create a new sword from the pieces. The entire process for Svendsen and colleague Loc Hong about 40 hours.

Svendsen and Hong installed the finished product Friday.

"The whole experience was a real pleasure," Svendsen, 32, said Saturday. "I feel I've been compensated in how much attention the project has received and to be part of such an important historical monument."

This is the second time the sword has been replaced, the news report said. The original bronze version was stolen in the 1890s.

Grounded free flyer battles for pass

NEW YORK, May 13 (UPI) -- A New York banker vows he will get back the ticket for unlimited travel that he says American Airlines revoked because he travelled too much.

Steve Rothstein, 61, is appealing the dismissal of lawsuit over the revocation of the AAirpass he bought from American Airlines in 1987 and used for more than 10,000 flights through 2008.

"Our country is almost captive to big companies who have incredible power to do whatever they want to do," Rothstein told The New York Post. "It's hard to fight them."

But, he added, "They signed a contract and a contract is a contract."

Rothstein said he paid a total of $350,000 for his AAirpass and a companion ticket which basically allowed him to travel at no additional charge wherever and whenever he wanted. "I could go someplace and I wouldn't even have to think about it," he said. "Just make the reservation and go."

Rothstein put the pass to good use on spur-of-the moment pleasure jaunts to Europe and sporting events around the United States. He frequently used it to help out strangers bumped from other flights or friends who couldn't afford to travel.

But the high-flying days came to an end after American conducted an audit of its most-costly accounts. The bean counters determined Rothstein had committed fraud by booking companion-ticket flights under fake names in order to hold a seat if he didn't know who his companion was going to be.

Rothstein said it was a devastating change of tune from a company he said treated him like a "hero" when he first bought his lifetime pass. "I feel betrayed," Rothstein said. "They took away my hobby and my life. They essentially destroyed my persona."

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