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January 12, 1993

San Francisco police arrested Russell C. Sultan in July and charged him with attempting to extort $23,000 from his mother and girlfriend by claiming to have been kidnapped for ransom.

After tracing telephone calls, police, guns drawn, burst into a motel room to find Sultan casually eating fried chicken and watching a 49ers football game.

Sultan said the kidnappers had merely left him alone for a while, and exclaimed to the officers, “What took you so long?”

It is common practice in England to ring a telephone by signaling extra voltage across one side of the two-wire circuit and ground (earth in England). When the subscriber answers the phone, it switches to the two-wire circuit for the conversation. This method allows two parties on the same line to be signaled without disturbing each other. Anyway, an elderly lady with several pets called to say that her telephone failed to ring when her friends called, and that on the few occasions when it did ring her dog always barked first. The telephone repairman proceeded to the scene, curious to see this psychic dog. He climbed a nearby telephone pole, hooked in his test set, and dialed the subscriber’s house. The phone didn’t ring. He tried again. The dog barked loudly, followed by a ringing telephone. Climbing down form the pole, the telephone repairman found:

1. A dog was tied to the telephone system’s ground post via an iron chain and collar.
2. The dog was receiving 90 volts of signaling current.
3. After several such jolts, the dog would start barking and urinating on the ground.
4. The wet ground now completed the circuit and the phone would ring

The following appeared on the back page of one of Australia’s more outrageous computer publications, “Computing Australia”, 21st Sept 1987: … Blame it on the computer.

An unfriendly computer has been held responsible for a “potentially lethal error” involving a Mafia loan collector.

A New York paper inadvertently put the `heavy’ in the running for a pair of custom-fitted concrete shoes when it identified him as a “ruthless informer”.

According to a published retraction (and apology!), a writer on the paper had actually typed “ruthless enforcer” – but the computer system’s spelling checker liked it the other way.

And I thought the worst you could expect from a “computer error” was a bill for a million dollars!

February 17, 1993

In July, a Jackson Center, Pa., woman reported that someone used a ladder to climb into the second story of her home and that all that was missing was $10 worth of diapers, despite the presence of jewelry and antiques in the same room.

One afternoon, during our second week of summer camp, we were at the pool and Azuriah (1st Grade) came up to me screaming with his hands over his eyes, “MY EYES! MY EYES!” Sunscreen was spread thickly on his forehead and the water from the pool had cascaded opaque streams over his eyelids. “It hurts! Ow!” I grabbed Max and Jack (3rd graders), to accompany us in the bathroom to rise out his eyes.
Max and Jack showed little sympathy and fooled around with the sinks as I instructed Azuriah to splash water over his eyes. He wailed and carried on with torturous pain “MY EYES!” Owwww!”
I appreciated Max and Jack keeping themselves occupied but I noticed Jack filling his cupped hand with liquid soap. “Jack!”, I said firmly. “I’m trying to help this guy out and you’re just wasting the soap! Go sit down on the bench and wait please.” I resume helping Azuriah get water over his face and not ten seconds later, I see Jack with his hands over his eyes yelling, “AHHH MY EYES!”

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