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Quick Takes


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Quick Takes
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Homes without gnomes

As the weather warms across Britain, many gardeners will head to the store to pick up a garden gnome. They may be out of luck. According to some store operators, there are barely any garden gnomes left in stock. The problem is as simple as supply and demand: Garden furniture sales have increased dramatically since the coronavirus pandemic began, and the March blockage of the Suez Canal contributed to supply chain problems. “There’s definitely a shortage,” the assistant manager of one garden center told The Guardian. “We haven’t seen a gnome in six months now unfortunately.” He added that garden centers were nearly twice as busy this March as they were in 2019. Iain Wylie, the chief executive of the Cheshire-based Garden Centre Association, told the newspaper, “We’re facing a perfect storm of lockdown, everyone being stuck at home, and one thing people can do is their gardening.”

Prowling beast

Police in Greenville, N.C., responded to a suspected home invasion call on April 6 to find not a burglar prowling at the scene but a four-legged creature with horns. After searching the property, officers with the Greenville Police Department took into custody a black-and-white goat. The Animal Protective Services unit of the police department also got involved, dubbing the animal “Billy.” “When we arrived, Billy was hanging out around the windows of the house,” a police spokesman said on Facebook. “We are happy to report that Billy has been arrested and is no longer a threat.” The department noted Billy would finish his sentence under house arrest—with his owner.

Charity tax

A Connecticut teacher who raised tens of thousands of dollars to help neighbors during pandemic lockdowns last year has received notice he’s expected to pay taxes on those donations. Louis Goffinet of Mansfield, Conn., raised $41,000 through Facebook to help locals pay rent and buy groceries. “My original goal was to raise $200 to help one family with groceries,” he said. Then Goffinet’s fundraiser went viral. Because he had not created a tax-exempt organization, Facebook sent him a 1099 tax form indicating he owed the IRS over $16,000. Now neighbors are raising money to help pay Goffinet’s tax bill.

Cold comforts

For just $5,000, some hockey fans in Florida will get to spend the night with the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Lightning posted the offer on short-term rental website Airbnb: According to a one-time listing that was quickly booked, a group of six could stay in a luxury suite for one night inside the team’s arena. The Stanley Cup–winning franchise will leave its trophy for the guests to admire. The team also offers a Zamboni ride, a five-course meal, and some skate time to burn off the ­calories.

Election to forget

A small Missouri town held an election in April, but nobody showed up. Officials in La Russell, Mo., collected signatures earlier this year to put to voters the question of whether La Russell should join the Avilla Fire Protection District. The initiative was the only measure on the April 6 ballot. But because none of the town’s 70 residents voted, the ballot initiative failed. Mayor Rick Burton didn’t vote because he was sick and in the hospital, according to his wife, who is also the city clerk. “I guess we didn’t throw up the flag and let everyone know there was an election, so nobody went,” she said.

Save a sub

The French navy has performed a successful submarine transection to salvage a nuclear-powered submarine damaged in a fire last year. The French attack submarine Perle caught fire and burned for 14 hours, leaving its front half ruined. So naval officials ordered one of her decommissioned sister ships, the Saphir, cut in two in March so it could be fused to the Perle. According to the French navy, the splice will require 100,000 hours of planning and problem-solving together with 250,000 hours of labor.

Roadside pickup

Roadkill: It’s what’s for dinner. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a law in April that will permit the state’s residents to collect and eat roadside carcasses. The law creates a July deadline for Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department to draft rules for harvesting roadkill. “It’s really hard to guess and estimate how much interest there will be,” Game and Fish chief game warden Rick King told the Jackson Hole Daily. “Montana has been averaging about 1,000 salvage permits a year.” According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, drivers report about 3,000 collisions with animals each year.

Cassette tape crimes

After getting married in Texas, a former Oklahoma resident learned she was a wanted woman. While attempting to update her driver’s license with her new name, Caron McBride said a government official told her she had an outstanding warrant in Oklahoma. “The first thing she told me was felony embezzlement, so, I thought I was gonna have a heart attack,” McBride told Fox 25. After investigating, McBride learned the felony warrant had been issued in 2000 when a video rental store claimed she didn’t return a VHS tape of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. McBride said she’s never watched the show and said her former boyfriend may have forgotten to return the rental. The rental store in Norman, Okla., shuttered in 2008. After examining the file, the local district attorney dismissed the case in April. McBride said the embezzlement charge explains why she’s been abruptly fired from multiple jobs over the past 20 years. “This is why … because when they ran my criminal background check, all they’re seeing is those two words: felony embezzlement,” McBride said.

Just Joshing around

If you have a fairly common name, you understand the difficulty of setting up an online account unique to yourself. Josh Swain of Tucson, Ariz., had exactly that problem, finding there were multiple people named “Josh Swain” on Facebook. So on a lark, he decided to organize a battle for king of the Joshes. But his efforts morphed into something much bigger as hundreds of Joshes—even those without the last name Swain—took up his call to battle it out in Lincoln, Neb., on April 24 for the right to be considered top Josh. They bashed one another with pool noodles, eventually resulting in the coronation of a winner—a 4-year-old named Josh Vinson Jr.

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