A team of researchers from the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology announced in December that after nearly four years of research, it had solved the perplexing problem of how to store and pour draft beer while on zero-gravity space stations. The team injects carbon dioxide against a flexible membrane inside the keg, which forces the beer out without commingling the liquid and the gas (as is done in the conventional keg). This technology provides the additional benefit of ejecting the beer in liquid chunks the size of table-tennis balls.
A life traigically cut short
In Butler County, Pa., in March, Tammy Lynn Felbaum, 42, was charged in connection with the death of her sixth husband, James Felbaum, who died from complications of a botched castration, which Tammy said James performed on himself. Tammy (who used to be Tommy Wyda before allegedly castrating himself in 1980 in order to move up in the sex-change-surgery queue at Case Western Reserve medical school) was known in the community as an amateur medical practitioner, allegedly working on animals. In a previous career Tammy was a stripper best known for being able to crush empty soda cans between her breasts. A crude surgical-consent form, signed by James, was found in the couple's home, but Tammy told police that she had nothing to do with the fatal operation and that the form was actually from an earlier castration attempt by James.
The sonnet also rises
In February, the British company Travelman, publisher of short fiction, installed three vending machines in London train stations to sell single-sheet, folded-like-a-map collections of poetry, to supply reading material for newspaper-avoiding commuters.
It's called firewater, after all
On March 16 in New Plymouth, New Zealand, Stuart Beech, 31, changed his plea and admitted in court that his high DUI blood-alcohol reading might have been caused by the six beers he had drunk; initially, he had pointed out to police that since he does a nightclub act as a fire-breather, it was natural for him to have methyl fuel on his breath (though he has since switched professionally to kerosene). On the same day, halfway around the world in Los Angeles, fire-breathing magician Randall Richman, 32, told the Los Angeles Times he will argue at his upcoming DUI trial that his breath-test reading detected only the lighter fluid he uses in his act (though the police report said he also had bloodshot eyes and could not stand up).
In the line of duty
Former Long Island police officer Dominick Steo filed a $45 million lawsuit in federal court in Central Islip, N.Y., in January, charging the police department with ill-advisedly furnishing him a service weapon during a period of depression, three months before he shot himself with it. And Richard L. Garcia, 17, filed a lawsuit in November against the city of Bradenton, Fla., because police let him go with no penalty after stopping him while he was driving drunk. (He crashed a few minutes later, suffering serious injuries.) And burglar Shane Colburn filed a $20,000 (USD) lawsuit in Penrith, Australia, in November, because his victims and their dogs roughed him up when they caught him in the act.
Giving him the finger
In a February dispatch from Tblisi, Georgia, the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported that surgeons at Tblisi's prominent Institute of Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery had successfully replaced a cancer patient's amputated penis with a substitute made from the man's left middle finger and had created a channel inside to allow urine (and semen) to pass.
Let there be G-strings
Business is brisk for the Seek Ye First Lingerie shop (Louisburg, N.C.), whose two female Baptist owners appeal to religious women who want to be alluring but not sleazy. According to a January report in the Raleigh News & Observer, the most popular part of the shop is the "Thong Center" rack.
Food for thought
Hormel Foods announced in January that it will sell pork and turkey protein products in the form of a binding substance that General Motors will use to make molds for casting metal parts for cars (thus reducing GM's dependence on chemicals). And among eateries recently in the news: Miami's B.E.D. restaurant, where customers are served not while sitting at tables but while lounging on the floor on large mattresses (up to 60 feet by 10 feet, for parties of 10), and New York's Ike, which in its appeal to baby boomers has a Swanson's TV dinner on the menu for $6.
Earn while you learn
All in March: A Buffalo, N.Y., public school program announced it will pay some high-school students $5 an hour to attend English and math classes this summer. A slow-handed 27-year-old 7-Eleven clerk was taken by paramedics not to a hospital but to an industrial shop (along with the store's auto-locking safe) to have her fingers extricated from the safe's coin-deposit slot (Aberdeen, Wash.). A stickup man wielding a toy gun robbed the Glebe Side Kids toy store (Ottawa, Ontario). Britain's Princess Anne, 50, was fined about $700 for driving her Bentley about 90 mph and ignoring a police officer chasing her; she said she just assumed that the officer's flashing lights meant that he had come to provide a royal escort (Gloustershire, England).