Archive | August, 2013

Random Objects Saving Lives

21 Aug

Life is a funny thing.  You could be going about your day the same as any other, when danger suddenly decides to pay you a visit.  Next thing you know you are faced with an armed robber, a runaway train, or a horde of sharks pummelling down at you from a tornado.

When confronted with unexpected life-threatening danger, there’s usually only one thing that can save you: dumb luck.  Here is a collection of people who survived near-death experiences with no thanks to skill or quick thinking, but to random objects saving their lives.

The first story takes us to Brazil, where 58-year-old Ivonete Pereira hopped aboard a bus in Salvador, the capital of Bahia.  There had been frequent bus attacks in the region, so Pereira decided to hide her money.  Her caution was justified when two men announced that they were about to rob the bus.  A shootout ensued with a police officer on the scene, and a stray bullet hit Pereira in the chest.  It would most certainly have been a fatal blow…

…except that the bullet struck the wad of bank notes Pereira had stuffed into her bra.

Pereira’s secret wad of hidden money absorbed enough of the impact of the bullet that her life was saved, although she still had to be taken to hospital to have the bullet removed.  It seems that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a reprieve from death.  It’s also an alternative to surgery when looking to achieve a fuller, perkier look.

This smart lady is taking sensible measures that could save her life.

This smart lady is taking sensible measures that could save her life.

Amazingly that isn’t the only case of money stopping a bullet.  Elizabeth Pittenger, 22, had just stepped into her truck on campus at Middle Tennessee State University, US, when a man pulled a gun on her and demanded her phone, purse and laptop.  Pittenger refused to give up her possessions, and in an unorthodox move to avoid danger, got out of the truck “to keep a struggle going”.

She got what she hoped for, the man shooting her with a .38 calibre revolver, before fleeing the scene.  Even though she was shot from just four feet away, Pittenger survived, thanks to a random object.  Like most women, Pittenger was carrying an oversized purse chock full of an assortment of items (most of which she probably never uses – am I right?!).  Thanks to being so full of junk, the bullet was lodged in her purse and didn’t even make it through the other end, acting, as it were, like a bulletproof vest.  Some of the contents of her purse included a calculator, umbrella, a sunglasses case, and a bullet.  Accessorising can not only make or break an outfit, but also the trajectory of a deadly projectile.


A typical woman's bag.

A typical woman’s bag.

Juan Camarena was also shot at close range and lived to tell the tale.  Camarena, 54, was sweeping the floor of an apartment building in Harlem, New York, after being hired by the building’s new superintendent.  Unfortunately for him, the building’s old superintendent was not happy about being fired, and showed up to the building to confront his replacement.  Seeing Camarena instead, the man kindly suggested that he, “Get the [fudge] out of here.”  Camarena continued with his work, and so the man pulled out a gun and shot him from 5 feet away.

Camarena didn’t have an oversized purse over his shoulder, or a bra to stuff a wad of notes in (probably) so how did he survive?  The bullet struck his mobile phone.  Talk about a close call!  The gunman fled without capture.  Camarena would have called 911, but…

David Fitzherbert of West London was enjoying a spot of skiing in Switzerland when he almost suffered an untimely death.  He was skiing down a glacier on Switzerland’s Matterhorn when the snow gave way beneath him, causing him to plummet 20m down a crevasse.  He was about to fall through the bottom and plunge to his death, when the gap narrowed.  The gap was just large enough that Fitzherbert would have fallen through, but he survived.  How?  He had his BlackBerry mobile phone in his jacket pocket, and it caught on a ledge, preventing him from falling.  No doubt it was the only time Fitzherbert had been happy to be put on hold.

We've all been in this situation before.

We’ve all been in this situation before.

The BlackBerry was sturdy enough to keep Fitzherbert safely wedged within the crevasse for two whole hours until he could be rescued.  Not only that, but after being taken to the hospital (Fitzherbert broke his jaw, cracked a rib, smashed his teeth, and almost had his nose completely torn off) he was able to use his phone to call his wife and let her know that not only was he alright, he had never been more grateful to be stuck on the phone.

Perhaps the greatest example, however, of being saved by a random object happened in 2011. Israeli “model and actress” (if you know what I mean) Orit Fox was appearing on countryman DJ Shmulik Tayar’s radio show.  As part of the show, Fox was fondling and licking a poisonous snake (as you do).  It’s not clear whether the snake realised it was being handled by one of its mortal enemies – the Fox – or whether it was aroused by the fondling and thought it would reciprocate, but the snake lashed out at the model.

And latched on to her breast.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, that’s hilarious.  But it was also life threatening; or at least it would have been had Fox not been saved by a random object.

Her breast implants.

Yes, Fox’s ginormous, perfectly shaped breasts were not, as it turns out, natural, and the extra padding bore the brunt of the snake’s fangs, leaving Fox’s breasts untouched (a situation that doesn’t occur very often for Fox I’m sure).

The tale does have a sad ending however.  A few days after the incident, the poor snake passed away, dying from poisoning.  In a complete turn of the tables, the snake was poisoned from a most unlikely source: Fox’s silicone implants.  Yes, the snake punctured Fox’s implants and the leaking silicon killed it.  Talk about having a killer body.

If only the snake had a wad of cash or a phone in its mouth it might still be alive.  Perhaps its memory lives on – as an oversized purse.

A Joining of Titans

8 Aug

Something unusual happened in New York yesterday that has baffled many people.  However, upon examining the evidence to hand, I have determined that this seemingly random event has a perfectly understandable, and awesome, explanation.  Sit down and put on a helmet – I’m about to blow your mind.

Yesterday a commuter on New York’s subway, identified only as ‘Mary M’, stepped into a carriage in Manhattan and immediately noticed something was wrong: there was an unusual odour on the train.  Now of course something would be wrong if there wasn’t an unusual odour on the train – we’re talking the New York Metro here – but as Mary M described the stench, “It’s not the typical urine/trash smell, it’s…fishy.”

Let’s overlook the fact that the New York subway normally smells of human waste, bodily or other, and focus on what Mary M saw.  “I look down to the end of the car,” she said, “to see a dead shark on the floor.  I think I stood there for a good minute just staring, thinking ‘Is this for real?  Oh come ON, NYC!’”  (I love Mary M!)  Sure enough though, there was a dead shark sitting on the floor of the carriage.  That’s weird, even by New York standards.

"So buddy, did you catch the Knicks game last night?"

“So buddy, did you catch the Knicks game last night?”

When asked how it would dispose of the dead shark, a Metropolitan Transportation Administration official stated, “Live sharks are wrangled by Shark Maintainer IIs, who have passed the qualification test and have minimum three years in the Shark Maintainer I title.  Dead ones are handled by Shark Maintainer Is, or if none are available on that shift, then by Aquatic Mammal Handler IIs.” Typical New York smart ass.

The shark was in fact disposed of, but no one knows how it came to be on the New York Metro in the first place (especially without a ticket).  As Mary M might say, something smells fishy.

The answer, however, is obvious.

Less than a month ago, US’s SyFy channel aired what is widely considered one of the decade’s top ten movies about sea-dwelling creatures in airborne weather patterns, Sharknado.  Due to the social media attention it garnered, it wasn’t long before a sequel was announced.  Not much has been revealed about the sequel to date, but we do know one thing: it will be set in New York City.

Mystery solved.

Yes, this dead shark on the Metro MUST be a publicity stunt for Sharknado 2: Sharks and the City (my early vote for the movie’s title).  Not only that, it could be a clue for what might happen in the film.

The only other fact about Sharknado 2: Biting the Big Apple that we know, besides its intended 2014 release date, is that Tara Reid will not be back to reprise her role of April Wexler, estranged wife of chainsaw-wielding, jumping-into-sharks’-mouths hero, Fin (played by Ian Ziering).  This means that there will need to be a new cast of actors, a new band of heroes.

"What? I'm not good enough to be in Sharknado 2?  This is a new low for me."

“What? I’m not good enough to be in Sharknado 2? This is a new low for me.”

Now, should it be the case that part of Sharknado 2: Some Fin in the Air is that the sharks will find themselves on the New York subway, as this incident seems to indicate, who would be a suitable actor to fill the void left by the departure of Reid’s vacant stare?  It would have to be someone unafraid of dealing with terrifying beasts, and preferably someone who has experience dealing with them on transport.

Of course!  There’s only one man for the job: Neville Flynn, aka Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Snakes on a Plane!

What better choice to be Ziering’s wingman than the furious Jackson?  Even their characters’ names are similar: Fin and Flynn!

And who wouldn’t want to hear Jackson, chainsaw in hand, scream out, “Enough is enough!  I have had it with these muthaf*ckin sharks on this muthf*ckin train!”  The answer: no one.  Except maybe Tara Reid.

He's not saying 'fudge'.

He’s not saying ‘fudge’.

I, for one, cannot wait for Sharknado 2: Sharks on a Train.  As the original Sharknado poster brashly stated: enough said.

A World Full of Cheats

5 Aug

I think it was the Dalai Lama that once said, “Cheating is what separates us from the animals,” moments before he swindled Desmond Tutu in a game of high stakes poker.  As humans, sometimes we can’t help it (some more than others – cough, cough, Lance Armstrong, cough) but in recent weeks there have been some people in the news for cheating (or almost cheating) in the most ludicrous of ways.

First comes a man who cheated the system.  Lenin Carballido narrowly won the mayoral election of San Agustin Amatengo, a village near the colonial city of Oaxaca in southern Mexico, and was all set to take up public office.  I know what you’re thinking, but no – Carballido did not rig the election to cheat his way into office.  There was a different problem.

Carballido was dead.

Well, strictly speaking – from a purely scientific perspective – Carballido wasn’t actually dead, insofar as he was technically alive.  However a death certificate had surfaced, indicating that he supposedly had died in 2010 of a diabetic coma.  A slight problem if someone wants to take office.

"I can't believe that worked!"

“I can’t believe that worked!”

It turns out that Carballido had forged his death certificate in order for his family to convince police to drop an arrest warrant against him.  It had worked – until Carballido was stupid enough to run for the most public role in the town and think no one would be suspicious that he also was legally dead.  Not the smartest mayoral policy.

In a bizarrely analogous story of people being both dead and alive, doctors at St Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse, New York, were about to operate on a dead woman in order to harvest her organs.  Just as the doctors were about to remove her organs, the woman, Colleen Burns, woke up.  Now a zombie, Colleen rampaged through the hospital, killing innocent people and eating their brains.  OK, that bit’s not true, but she did wake up on the operating table moments before being carved open, surprising everyone.

Burns was lucky to cheat death, but the hospital is now under investigation after it was discovered that there were several things that could have indicated to a talented doctor, if he or she were observant enough, that Burns was in fact not as dead as was claimed.  For example, the day before the operation her toes moved in response to a reflex test.  Also, her nostrils flared on the way to the operating room, indicating that she was breathing independently.  Her lips and tongue were also moving.  I don’t claim to be a doctor, but I would be fairly confident that these are signs of a living person.

The good news is that a spokesman for the hospital stated that they have learned from the experience and “modified our policies”.  I assume that the modified policy is along the lines of “don’t harvest organs from living people”.

Possibly Colleen Burns.

Possibly Colleen Burns.

In Japan, men and women all over the country are trying to cheat fate, and doing so in a peculiar manner: by having surgery on their hands.  How does that work exactly?  The trend relies on the ancient practice of palmistry, the belief that someone’s future can be read by looking at the lines on their palm.  So people who don’t like their future are having surgery to extend or add lines, thus altering their destiny.

Apparently men are interested in changing their business and financial lines, whereas women are most interested in changing their marriage lines.  Robin Thicke is interested in blurred lines.

Dr Matsuoka of Shonan Beauty Clinic’s Shinjuku branch said that you cannot perform the surgery with a laser, as it “heals, and it won’t leave a clear mark.”  Instead he performs surgery with an “electric scalpel and make a shaky incision on purpose, because palm lines are never completely straight.”  Ouch.  And so it is that many people try to improve their future health and finances by booking themselves in for a painful surgical procedure that will cost them $1100.  That makes perfect sense.

In the US, there was an interesting story about a man trying not to cheat.  Melissa Nelson, 33, had worked as a dental assistant to James Knight for a decade, before Knight fired her.  Nelson was a diligent worker who was very good at her job, but Knight felt that he had no choice but to dismiss her, on account of the fact that she was too attractive and he was worried he would have an affair.  Looks like the only occasion where it wouldn’t pay to be a ‘model employee’ (pun!).

Nelson sued Knight, but the Iowa Supreme Court upheld the District Court’s original ruling that such firings do not count as illegal sex discrimination because they are motivated by feelings rather than gender.   Following that logic, I expect a spike in other firings motivated by feelings in the workplace.  Of hatred and annoyance.

The case also raises another question.  How does it make the other members of Knight’s all-female staff – including Nelson’s replacement – feel?  It must be the only workplace in the world where staff are offended if they don’t get fired.

The most blatant cheating of recent weeks, however, happened in Nigeria, and it didn’t even involve an email seeking bank account details.  Two amateur soccer teams, United Feeders and Police Machine (awesome names!), were fighting it out in a tournament to get promoted to the Nationwide League Division 3, Nigeria’s lowest professional league.  As both teams had the exact same records and the exact same for and against, the team that won their final game by the most goals would score the coveted promotion to the professional league.  In a very, very subtle ploy to be the successful team, Police Machine won their game 67 – 0.  Not a typo – that’s 67 goals!  Given that they had scored a combined two goals in their other two games, the result raised some eyebrows.

"Oh no!  I totally let in another goal!  Oh darn it."

“Oh no! I totally let in another goal! Oh darn it.”

I don’t think there could have been any way that they could have cheated more blatantly.  Oh wait – apparently there is a way.  United Feeders won their game 79 – 0.  That’s almost a goal a minute!  And the score was only 7 – 0 at halftime, so in the second half they scored a goal every 40 seconds!!!  It comes as no surprise that both teams – and their opponents – are being investigated for cheating.  Although it is Nigeria so maybe it is a little surprising.

The only way that officials could have missed the fact that these teams were cheating would have been if they worked at St Joseph’s Hospital.  Next time they want to win, the teams should just have palm surgery on their success lines.