News of the Weird

Wednesday March 27, 2002

Some major static cling at Target 


EUGENE, Ore. — A new Target store is shocking dozens of customers — and not with their prices. 

Store manager Tim Snow said the new carpeting is generating static electricity that seems to be zapping customers who push the metal-framed, metal-handled carts. 

The store has ordered $1,500 worth of anti-shock “kits” in an attempt to halt what has become an epidemic of static electricity since the store opened two weeks ago. 

“Every time we come here I get shocked,” shopper Christy Hogan said Monday. “I was touching a lotion dispenser with one hand, and I was hanging onto the cart with the other hand. The shock went through one hand and went out through the other. I said ‘Damn,’ and my daughter said, ‘Mom!”’ 

As a solution, the retailer will outfit its 400 carts with a small metal chain or bar to “drain off” the static instead of allowing it to discharge through people. 



It’s OK to garden in the buff 


HARRISBURG, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s indecent exposure law apparently doesn’t cover nude gardeners. 

A three-judge panel of the state Superior Court has thrown out a central Pennsylvania man’s indecent exposure conviction stemming from his penchant for doing yard work in the buff. 

Charles Stitzer, 63, was charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct in September 2000 for wearing only shoes and a watch while gardening in his back yard in Pleasant Gap on a summer night. 

Stitzer, a retired mechanical draftsman, said he often shed clothes to do yard work and beat the summer heat in the town of 1,700 about eight miles north of State College. 

A neighbor, Pam Watkins, and her 15-year-old daughter reported him to police when they saw him gardening without clothes. Stitzer said he wanted to persuade Watkins to dim her outdoor floodlights that shone on his property. 

Stitzer was sentenced to two years of probation on the charges. 

The Superior Court last week ruled that Stitzer’s situation wasn’t covered by the state’s indecent exposure law because his backyard is private and his offended neighbor lived too far away, 65 yards. 




MINDEN, La. (AP) — Birthdays will be easy to remember in Steven Lowery’s family. 

Lowery and his twin sister Stacy Lowery Cox were born Feb. 17. So were their children, three years apart. 

“We plan to have a big birthday party for the kids, and my brother and I will continue to have a birthday dinner together like we always have,” Cox said. 

Both babies originally had due dates of Feb. 24 — Paige Lowery in 1999, Connor Lowery Cox this year. 

When Paige was born, Cox recalls, “everyone was so excited about my niece being born on his birthday, everyone told him happy birthday, but forgot all about me.” 

Cox said that when her doctor told her that her first baby was due Feb. 24, she joked to her brother that she’d give birth on their birthday “so I could get my revenge on him.” 

The joke turned real. 

“I think that this is so special,” Cox said. 


DENVER (AP) — Forget gold and silver. Sen. Ken Chlouber wants to designate rhodochrosite as the state mineral. 

Chlouber, who represents Leadville, said the blood-red mineral from his district is unique. Besides, it was suggested by his constituents at a local high school. 

The Senate gave initial approval Monday to his bill. 

Sen. Ron Tupa, of Boulder, tried unsuccessfully to add amendments to House Bill 1346 to substitute gold or silver. Chlouber said other states, including California and Nevada, already staked their claim on those minerals. 

Sen. Andy McElhany said the bluish mineral amazonite from Pikes Peak would be far a better choice. 

“Why would we want something that’s communist red?” he asked. 

Other than in the Eastern European country of Romania, rhodochrosite is found mostly in Butte, Mont., and Leadville. The mineral consists essentially of manganese carbonate.