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Updated: 07/25/03

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Friday, 25 July, 2003

You can't make up a headline like this:

Cubans try to sail to Fla. in '51 Chevy

MIAMI (Reuters) - The 12 Cubans who tried to sail a 1951 Chevy truck from the communist-ruled island to the United States got no marks from U.S. authorities for their creativity.

The would-be emigrants were sent back home.

Since Fidel Castro's 1959 revolution, Cubans have tried to leave the Caribbean island on rudimentary rafts, on giant truck inner tubes, in stolen boats and planes, even by windsurfer.

But no one remembers anyone attempting the 90-mile (145-km) crossing of the Florida Straits in a floating flatbed truck with 55-gallon (250-litre) drums strapped to its sides, tires still in place, a propeller attached to its drive shaft and a driver behind the wheel.

A U.S. government plane spotted the bright-green truck chugging through the water at 8 mph (13 kph) on July 16 about 40 miles (64 km) south of Key West, just over halfway from Cuba to Florida. The Cubans had fashioned a makeshift, bright yellow shelter on the truck's bed.

"The truck's engine was actually running, propelling it through the water," [Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan] Doss said.

[Truth is stranger than fiction.]

Here in Pennsylvania, when one travels west of Philadelphia along Route 30, one may often see old fashioned Amish carriages on the road, complete with their mandatory modern reflector safety triangles on the back. Apparently this rather odd juxtaposition has made its way to other regions as well:

NEW DELHI, India - Elephants in India's capital have begun wearing reflectors on their backsides to avoid being hit by cars.

About 30 elephants are used for commercial work in New Delhi, such as clearing felled trees. The work is done at night to avoid traffic disruptions. But their dark skin makes them difficult to see on the city's often dimly lit streets, creating the risk of accident.

Now reflectors are being attached to ropes hanging near the elephant's tail and thighs so they can be seen from behind, N.V.K Ashraf of the Wildlife Trust of India said.

[And you thought hitting a deer was bad for your car.]

I got a chuckle out of this one:

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. - A cat burglar's booty is being hoarded in a Ventura County home.

A marauding feline named Midnight now dubbed Klepto Cat has been sneaking off in the dark to raid neighbors' homes, garages, sheds and patios, bringing home shoes, hats, shirts, socks and even a wrapped Christmas present.

It's stressful for pet owners Richard and Sue Boyd.

"We get so embarrassed by this," Sue Boyd said. "We wake up in the morning and go out and there's stuff under the truck. The cat leaves things all over. We don't want these things."

"He's a klepto cat," her husband said.

Each day, Midnight's owners leave a bag with the purloined goods hanging from their mailbox so neighbors can reclaim missing items.

[Don't get any ideas, Suki.]

Quote du jour:

"KLEPTOMANIAC, n. A rich thief."

-- Ambrose Bierce (1842 - 1914) US journalist, short-story writer The Devil's Dictionary, 1911

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