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Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013

Chuck Shepherd's News Of The Weird

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Spreadsheet Parenting

Loco Parentis: First-time mother Amy Webb proudly notates dozens of data points about her child each day and obsessively tracks their detailed progression by computer on spreadsheets, according to the provocative first-person account she wrote for slate.com in July. In categories ranging from ordinary vital signs, to the kid’s progress in sound-making, to dietary reactions, to quantity and quality of each poop, stats are kept 24/7 (even with a bedside laptop to facilitate nighttime entries). She began tracking her own health during pregnancy, but then decided, “Why stop now?” when her daughter was born. Webb’s pediatrician rated the kid’s health as “A-minus,” but the parents’ as “C,” adding, “You guys need to relax. Leave the spreadsheets (out).” Webb and her husband remain confident that their extreme tracking optimizes their chances of raising a healthy daughter.

Ironies

  • Actually, That’s Why She's in Trouble: In August, a federal judge in Seattle sentenced Alicia Cruz, 31, to four years in prison for violating court-ordered drug treatment stemming from a 2011 conviction for stealing the identities of more than 300 people. Cruz had won a second chance (drug treatment, instead of prison) by convincing the judge that she was no longer a crook—that this time, she would abandon her identity-theft life and go straight. Added Cruz, “I’m a different person now.” 
  • James “Sonny” McCullough, the mayor of the New Jersey shore town of Egg Harbor (pop. 4,240), announced in August that he was selling his waterfront home—because real estate taxes were too high (more than $31,000 a year) following a recent re-assessment and that he could no longer afford it. The mayor, 71, told The Press of Atlantic City that he had planned to live the rest of his life in the home, but was not even certain he could afford to live anywhere in Egg Harbor.

Perspective

Researchers can accurately estimate a person’s economic status just by learning which environmental toxins are in his body, concluded a University of Exeter (England) research team recently, using U.S. data. Although “both rich and poor Americans are walking waste dumps,” wrote the website Quartz, reporting the conclusions, poorer people’s typical food leaves lead, cadmium and Bisphenol-A, whereas richer people more likely accumulate heavy metals (mercury, arsenic, thallium) from aquatic lean protein (and acquire oxybenzone from the active ingredient in sunscreens). Previous research was thought to show that richer Americans ate healthier (for example, eating fruits and vegetables instead of canned foods), but the Exeter research shows they merely house different toxins.

Least Competent Criminals

Recurring Themes: (1) Vade Bradley, 39, was arrested on arson charges in Hayward, Calif., in August after burning down an apartment house carport, totally destroying six vehicles. He was siphoning other people’s gasoline in the carport when he decided to light a cigarette. (2) Richard Boudreaux was charged in January with burglarizing Kenney’s Seafood (where he previously worked) in Slidell, La., when he became the most recent perp to fail to outflank surveillance cameras. He had thought to wear a bucket over his head as he moved through the store—except he had waited until well inside (within camera range) before actually putting it on.

A News of the Weird Classic (April 2010)

Computer hardware engineer Toshio Yamamoto, 49, this year (2010) celebrates 15 years’ work tasting and cataloguing all the Japanese ramen (instant noodles) he can get his hands on (including the full ingredients list, texture, flavor, price and “star” rating for each), for the massive 4,000-ramen database on his website, expanded recently with “hundreds” of video reviews and with re-reviews of many previously appearing products (in case the taste had changed, he told journalist Lisa Katayama, writing in April (2010) on the popular blog Boing Boing). Yamamoto said he had always eaten ramen for breakfast seven days a week, but cut back recently to five. “I feared that, if I continued at (the seven-day) pace, I would get bored.”
 
© 2013 CHUCK SHEPHERD
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