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Lazy river ride

QUICK TAKES | The SS Berta breaks record for longest journey by pumpkin boat


Illustration by Chanelle Nibbelink

Lazy river ride
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Some men grow pumpkins for pies, others for shows. Nebraska’s Duane Hansen grew his 846-pound gourd to be a boat. The 60-year-old Hansen hollowed out his prized pumpkin, stashed a cooler inside it, and headed for the Missouri River. On Aug. 27, Hansen piloted the pumpkin, which he dubbed Berta, 38 miles downriver from Bellevue to Nebraska City using the Missouri’s natural current and a kayak paddle. The 11-hour float proved good enough to smash the prior Guinness World Record for “longest journey by pumpkin boat.” According to Hansen, riding through the wakes created by other boats proved to be the hardest part. “You’ve got to stop everything and just hold on and ride with those waves,” he told News Channel Nebraska. “That was bad.”

Fuel burn

Even before taking off, pilots of a United Airlines flight had to return to the gate at Newark’s Liberty International Airport on Aug. 22 after burning through too much fuel. Passengers took to social media to complain about spending more than six hours delayed on the ground because of a taxiway traffic jam caused in part by inclement weather. According to New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi, who was on the flight, pilots informed passengers after the hours-long wait that they no longer had sufficient fuel to make it to Denver.

Emergency re-moo-val

A cow in the U.K. needed some help from firefighters after getting itself wedged into a tight spot. Emergency workers received a call Aug. 31 requesting help in the village of Chilbolton in south England to rescue a cow stuck in a tree. According to firefighters, the cow had gotten its neck wedged in the fork of a willow. After cutting the tree to free the cow, officials with the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service labeled the rescue on Twitter as “udderly ridiculous.”

Life preserving appliance

A Brazilian fisherman bobbed on Atlantic Ocean waves for 11 days in August with only a freezer to keep him afloat. Romualdo Macedo Rodrigues left a Brazilian port in early August planning to fish for three days. But leaks in the boat overwhelmed the skipper, and eventually the vessel sank. Happily, Rodrigues managed to find a floating freezer among the flotsam and climbed inside. More than a week later, other fishermen spotted and rescued the man off the Suriname coast.

Mistaken windfall

“Finders keepers” may work on the playground, but an Australian woman may have a hard time pressing that doctrine in court. Last year, an employee at the Singapore-based Crypto.com accidentally ­transferred $7.2 million into Thevamanogari Manivel’s account rather than the $68 refund she’d requested. Officials with the company only noticed the error seven months later in December. But by then, Manivel had transferred the loot to an outside account and even purchased a lavish five-bedroom home with the proceeds. An Australian judge recently ordered Manivel to sell the home and repay the company.

The nanny did it

A sheriff’s deputy in Madison County, Ala., says a goat ate his paperwork. Deputy Casey Thrower said he was serving civil papers to an address when a pair of small goats made a move on his patrol car. Thrower said he typically leaves his door open in case he has to run from a loose dog. While one of the goats hopped on top of the cruiser, the other dove through the open door and began eating paperwork Thrower had left on the passenger seat. The deputy’s bodycam footage caught him pleading with the animal: “Quit eating that! Get out of here.” Eventually the deputy managed to scare off the goats, but that wasn’t the end of his misadventure: Higher-ups at the department released his bodycam footage to the public.

Telling it like it is

What’s the rudest city in America? According to an August survey of 1,500 Americans conducted by the language-learning app Preply, Philadelphia tops the list, with Memphis, New York, Las Vegas, and Boston rounding out the Top 5. Some denizens of the City of Brotherly Love aren’t taking the news well. Philadelphia Inquirer culture reporter and columnist Stephanie Farr retorted that residents are straightforward, not rude. “Listen, we’ll tell you what to expect when visiting Philly,” she wrote. “Cool sites, great food, and a level of honesty from the city’s people that some whiny babies are obviously not prepared for.”

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