Something to Sing About
The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Switzerland has a new course of study for scholars to pursue: a bachelor's or master's in yodeling. Beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, students will be able to major in the traditional form of singing, which was used by Swiss herdsmen to communicate with each other in the mountains. The BBC reported that prize-winning yodeler Nadja Rass will lead the courses, which will also include musical theory and history. "We have long dreamed of offering yodeling at the university," gushed Michael Kaufmann, head of the school's music department.
The Continuing Crisis
Birds nesting near natural gas compressors have been found to suffer symptoms similar to PTSD in humans, according to researchers at the Florida Museum of Natural History, and noise pollution has been named the culprit. The Washington Post reported the team studied birds in the Rattlesnake Canyon Habitat Management Area in New Mexico, which is uninhabited by humans but does contain natural gas wells and compression stations that constantly emit a low-frequency hum. The steady noise was linked to abnormal levels of stress hormones, and the usually hardy western bluebirds in the area were found to be smaller and displayed bedraggled feathers. "The body is just starting to break down," explained stress physiologist Christopher Lowry.
Armed and Naked
In Texas, game wardens came across an arresting sight in Gregg County last November: an unnamed Upshur County man hunting in the nude along a state highway. The Houston Chronicle reported that the hunter, who is a well-known nudist and activist in the area, contested his arrest on charges including hunting without a license, but one look in court at the warden's body cam footage undermined his case. The man then dropped his appeals and settled the citations.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
Vincente Rodrigues-Ortiz, 22, was arrested on Jan. 24 in Grand Rapids, Mich., for the assault and murder of Andre Hawkins, 17, the day before. But when Rodrigues-Ortiz appeared in court on Jan. 25 for arraignment, he questioned the judge about his "other murder case." WWMT TV reported that his query led prosecutors to interview and then swiftly charge him with the March 2017 homicide of Laurie Kay Lundeburg, and Rodrigues-Ortiz now awaits arraignment in that case as well.
Kane Blake of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, has great things to say about his Springvalley home: "It's a gorgeous neighborhood," and his family loves most things about it. Nevertheless, the Blakes have listed their home for sale, with a sign out front reading: "Home for Sale by owner because neighbor is an ---hole." Blake said a neighbor has been harassing his family for five years, including sending police and bylaws officers to the house for frivolous reasons and taking photos of Blake's house. "My kids won't even walk to school, they're terrified," he told the Kelowna Capital News, adding that he's received several offers on his house. (Update: Kane has since removed the sign.)
Homeowners in Noosa, Queensland, Australia, were perplexed about why their toilet kept randomly flushing, so on Jan. 28, they looked into the flush mechanism embedded in the wall behind the toilet. Then they summoned Luke Huntley, a local snake catcher. Huntley found a 13-foot brown tree snake in the niche, according to the Daily Mail, resting on the flush mechanism. "Hopefully, he's going to be able to come straight out," Huntley said on a video of the capture, "but he's a little grumpy."
A landlord in Cardiff, Wales, was caught in a compromising position when he offered a special rent deal to an ITV Wales reporter with a hidden camera. The unnamed man posted an ad on Craigslist offering a 650-pound-per-month home with the option of a "reduced deposit/rent arrangement" for "alternative payments." When he met reporter Sian Thomas at a restaurant to discuss the property, he said, "I don't know if you have heard of a sort of 'friends with benefits' sort of arrangement," reported Metro News on Jan. 30. He went on to say that if a once-a-week sex arrangement could be struck, "then I wouldn't be interested in any rent from you at all." The ITV Wales report was part of an investigation into "sex for rent" arrangements, which apparently are not uncommon in Wales, judging from other advertisements.
Government in Action
Saugatuck, Mich., attorney Michael Haddock's dog, Ryder, probably gave the mail carrier a day off after receiving an unexpected letter on Jan. 27 from the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency. According to WZZM TV, Haddock opened the envelope addressed to Ryder and found a letter saying that Ryder is eligible for $360 per week in unemployment benefits. "I knew he was clever," Haddock said of Ryder, "but he surprised me this time." The UIA admitted that its computer did send the notice to Ryder, but it was later flagged as suspicious, and the German shepherd won't receive any benefits after all.
• In New Hampshire, the state legislature is considering a bill that would hold owners of poultry responsible for the birds' trespassing. According to the proposal, reported by the Associated Press, "anyone who knowingly, recklessly or negligently allows their domestic fowl to enter someone else's property without permission" can be convicted if the birds damage crops or property. Rep. Michael Moffett, a Loudon Republican, told a committee on Jan. 30 that one man told him his neighbor was using chickens as a "form of harassment and provocation." But Earl Tuson, a local vegetable farmer, opposed the bill, noting, "Everyone loves eating bacon until they move in next to the pig farm."
A Missouri State University freshman identified only as Hayden may have set the perfect stage for a romantic story he'll tell into old age. In January, as he trolled Tinder, he spotted Claudia, also a student at MSU in Springfield. But, as the Springfield News-Leader reported, Hayden accidentally swiped left, rejecting her, so he decided on a bold move to find her. On Jan. 20, he searched the MSU website for every person named Claudia and emailed them all, asking "the" Claudia to email him back. He offered a doughnut date for "the one that got away." Claudia Alley, a freshman from Jefferson City, got Hayden's email and knew she was his target because he referenced a joke she made in her Tinder bio. Alley emailed Hayden, and the two planned to get doughnuts—and perhaps make history—later that week.
Rookie metal detectors Andy Sampson and Paul Adams were out looking for treasure along the Suffolk/Essex border in England when they came across more than 50 gold coins and pottery. Sampson said Adams started "shouting and jumping around and dancing." As for himself, Sampson immediately started figuring out how he would spend the money, which the pair thought might amount to 250,000 pounds or more. Alas, when Sampson showed the coins to his neighbor, he said, "They're not real—there's something wrong with them." Sure enough, when the treasure hunters made inquiries, they found that the coins and pottery were props for the BBC TV show Detectorists. Sampson and Adams told the BBC on Jan. 31 that they have "got over" their huge disappointment and will continue to metal detect.
Names in the News
Police in Logansport, Ind., finally caught up with the thief who had been targeting churches in the area since Jan. 16: Christian J. Alter, 22, of Kewanna, was charged with breaking into five houses of worship and stealing cash, according to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune. Alter was apprehended Jan. 23 just moments before the fifth burglary, at Rehoboth Christian Church, was discovered by police. He was being held in the Cass County Jail.
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