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Smell of enchantment

QUICK TAKES | One state could start a national trend with push to declare official state aroma

Illustration by Michael Hirshon

Smell of enchantment
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New Mexico has a state bird (the greater roadrunner) and a state flower (the yucca). Now lawmaker Bill Soules would like New Mexico to have an official state smell. Soules introduced a bill into the New Mexico Senate to make roasted green chile the state’s official aroma. The Las Cruces state senator said he got the idea after talking with a fifth grade class from Monte Vista Elementary School about things that make New Mexico unique. The students, who were learning about the legislative process, lobbied lawmakers via Zoom, and Soules’ bill earned the unanimous approval of a Senate committee Jan. 31. “The new state aroma could help draw visitors away from Colorado, which, for some reason, thinks it has green chile comparable to that of New Mexico,” quipped a fiscal impact report published by the Legislature.

Strange side effect

Can a serious illness change a person’s accent? That’s what some Duke University scientists are saying after detailing the case of a U.S. man who developed an Irish accent after starting treatment for prostate cancer. The researchers detailed the unusual malady, called foreign accent syndrome, in the British Medical Journal. According to the report, the man—who had never visited Ireland and did not have immediate Irish relatives—spoke uncontrollably in an Irish brogue throughout 20 months of treatment before succumbing to the cancer. The researchers noted it was the third such case of foreign accent syndrome discovered in cancer patients.

Multiplying islands

In 1987, a Japanese Coast Guard survey numbered 6,852 islands within the nation. Now Japan’s Geospatial Information Authority is poised to announce the nation has grown by some 7,000 islands, approaching a total of 14,000. Some of the new islands were simply uncounted during the 1987 survey, while some pieces of land will now count as islands due to changing international definitions. Still other islands are new, owing to volcanic activity in the decades since the last survey.

Students without dorms

Students at Cal Poly Humboldt university aren’t thrilled by the housing proposal their school floated in February. Faced with a lack of student housing, school officials suggested they could construct some dorm rooms on a barge floating 8 miles from the Northern California university’s ­campus. Officials said they’re also looking at renting hotel rooms. In nearby Eureka, Calif., city officials approved initial plans Feb. 2 to ­convert a few local parking lots into affordable housing.

Mistaken identity

The city of Sidney was smaller than Kingsley Burnett imagined. And there were far fewer ­kangaroos. The New York man thought he booked a January trip to Sydney, Australia, but in fact, Burnett bought a ticket to Sidney, Mont., a town of about 6,000 near the North Dakota border. Burnett told Storyful he knew there was a problem when he changed planes in Billings, Mont.: “I saw the little plane with like nine passengers and wondered, ‘How is that going to get me to Australia?’” It wasn’t. Burnett spent the night in Billings and returned to New York the next day. He rebooked a trip to Sydney, Australia, for June.

Back Down Under

After 16 hours in the air, passengers aboard an international flight bound for New York were no closer to the Big Apple than when they took off Feb. 16 in Auckland, New Zealand. About 2,000 miles from California, the crew of the Air New Zealand flight received word that officials at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York closed Terminal 1 due to an electrical fire. Rather than divert to another U.S. airport, company officials decided to turn the plane around and fly eight hours back to Auckland. An airline spokesman said landing at a ­different U.S. airport would have tangled up the plane’s schedule for days.

Mustering on

First they came for the Fords and Toyotas. On Feb. 9, catalytic converter thieves targeted the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The crew members of the iconic vehicle discovered the theft when they couldn’t get the Wienermobile to start ahead of a scheduled appearance in Las Vegas. Mechanics diagnosed the ­problem—a missing catalytic converter—after the 27-foot-long auto was towed from its parking spot a few blocks from the Las Vegas strip to a local Penske repair shop. Mechanics were able to jury-rig a temporary catalytic converter and get the Wienermobile back on the road.


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