Annoy a Squirrel, Pay a Fine

A Council Bluffs, Iowa, man learned the hard way — don't mess with the city's black squirrels.

Billy G. Cates, 18, was fined $325 last Tuesday for letting loose his dog "with the intent to annoy, worry, maim, injure or kill the squirrel," according to the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil and the Omaha World-Herald.

The black-colored squirrel (search) is Council Bluffs' unofficial mascot, and an ordinance protecting it has been on the books for decades.

"Originally Council Bluffs was noted nationwide for having black squirrels, an oddity in the squirrel world," Council Bluffs Police Sgt. Keith Jones explained, "but now we see them in other places."

Illegal under the ordinance is throwing things at squirrels or repeatedly threatening or scaring them. Jones said police see about one such violation per year.

There was no indication the squirrel was injured in the incident, and no medical treatment was sought.

— Thanks to Out There readers Keri R., Todd K. and Bill S.

Fish, Insults, Bullets and Candy

A fracas over fishing rights escalated into a hail of insults, bullets and hard candy, according to the Lake Sun Leader of Camdenton, Mo.

Property owner Steve Kralina didn't like it when two men in a boat showed up to fish just off his dock on the Lake of the Ozarks (search), a winding Central Missouri waterway formed by the damming of the Osage River in the 1930s.

Bad names were exchanged, and then Kralina, 49, began throwing hard candy at the fishermen, according to court documents.

Kralina then allegedly asked the pair, who were fishing for crappies (search), a common Southeastern and Mississippi Basin freshwater fish, to come onto his dock and settle it like men.

They refused, apparently in very colorful terms.

Kralina then announced he was going to get his gun. The fishermen told him to "bring it on" — but moved a bit further offshore just in case.

Good thing, too, because the sound of three shots made the fishing pair look up again to see Kralina holding a smoking revolver.

No one was hurt in the incident. Kralina has been charged with unlawful use of a weapon.

Camden County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Devon Ledam told the Lake Sun Leader that the lake and the crappie beds in it are considered public domain.

— Thanks to Out There reader Blake R.

Astros Fan Becomes Streaking Star

Houston Astros (search) fans got a bit more than they wanted to see during last Tuesday's game — a streaker bolting naked across the field.

The nude sprinter, "wearing nothing but a beard and a smile," as KHOU-TV put it, sprang onto the field during the seventh-inning stretch, possibly to do a base run.

Security guards chased him around until the streaker, later identified as Lucas Hawk, 23, tripped and fell in center field, allowing his pursuers to pile on.

The guards wrapped some cloth around Hawk and took him off the field as the crowd cheered.

Hawk told police he'd just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq and "thought it would be a fun thing to do." He did have two military IDs in his clothing.

He faces up to 180 days in jail for criminal trespass and indecent exposure, along with a $2,000 fine.

Fan assessment of Hawk's stunt was mixed.

"Just a bit of harmless fun," said Neil McCrory.

"He was fat," said Astros fan Paul Mathews.

— Thanks to Out There reader Lisa J.

Next Year: Cookie Monster

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Villanova University (search) seniors, who spent up to $112,000 on tuition in their four years, are underwhelmed by news the actor who plays Big Bird (search) will be this year's commencement speaker.

Caroll Spinney, who has portrayed the tall yellow-feathered bird for more than 30 years on "Sesame Street," will address the class on May 16.

"Everyone I've talked to says it's crazy," said senior Joe Mordini, a columnist for the Villanovan, the student newspaper.

"I also think there are other people who also embody truth and loyalty and love and other values of the university without also being iconic to the pre- school class," Mordini said.

Spinney, who published a book last year called "The Wisdom of Big Bird," has a positive message for students — and won't show up in costume — school officials say.

Spinney, who will receive an honorary degree, was chosen by a committee that includes the student government president, said spokeswoman Barbara Clement.

The Rev. Edmund Dobbin, university president, called Spinney a "world-class educator."

Atkins Dieters Booted by Restaurant for Eating Too Much Meat

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A couple on the Atkins Diet (search) have a beef with a local restaurant after being booted from the buffet for eating too much meat.

Isabelle Leota, 29, and her husband Sui Amaama, 26, both on the no-carb diet, were dining last Tuesday at a Chuck-A-Rama (search) in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville when the manager cut them off because they'd eaten too much roast beef.

"It's so embarrassing actually," said Leota. "We went in to have dinner. We were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment."

Not so, said Jack Johanson, the restaurant chain's district manager.

"We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," said Johanson. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."

The general manager was carving the meat, and became concerned about having enough for other patrons, Johanson said. So when Amaama went up for his 12th slice, the manager asked Amaama to stop.

Offended by the request, the couple argued with the manager, then asked for a refund. The manager refused, and when the couple refused to leave, he called police.

"I really feel like we were discriminated against, I feel like we were treated unfairly," said Leota.

The restaurant's roast beef is cooked overnight and takes between 12 and 14 hours to cook, Johanson said. Depending on the location, a Chuck-A-Rama may have only between one and five roasts each day.

But Johanson said the manager offered plenty of other buffet items for the couple to choose from.

The couple are finishing their second week of the Atkins Diet, which requires taking in little to no carbohydrates, and they eat at Chuck-A-Rama's $8.99 buffet at least twice a week because of its convenience.

"You can just go there and just eat meat," said Leota, a mother of two.

Johanson said there's no written policy for what patrons can or can't eat, or for the size of their portions. But the restaurant reserves the right to talk to patrons if they abuse the buffet — a rare occurrence, he said.

The couple said they won't return to the restaurant.

"I don't have any desire to go there ever again," said Leota.

Okay, Who Ordered the New Roof?

VIENNA, W.Va. (AP) — Loraine Stout returned home to find a crew preparing to install a new roof. Problem was, she didn't order one.

The crew had the right street address, but not the right road. The intended customer was a few houses away on another street.

"I don't understand how roofing contractors could not distinguish a brand-new roof from one that needed to be replaced," Stout said.

William Kiger of Belpre, Ohio-based Jackson General Contracting (search) called it "an honest mistake."

The intended homeowner, Debbie Richardson, said it's not uncommon in her neighborhood. She said work had been done by mistake on her home's water softener a few years ago.

"I think the streets are confusing here," she said. "I mean it's not the first time it's happened to where we've had a delivery here for someone else."

Stout, who had a new roof put on her home a year ago, returned home Wednesday from an out-of-town business trip and found nails, shingles and its residue all over the yard, driveway and deck.

"If it weren't me, I would find a little humor, too. I can't say that it's funny. I'm just amazed," she said.

The crew had removed shingles from the back, top section of her Wood County home. The mistake has since been reversed, but Stout claims that section will still have to be redone due to scuffed or torn shingles.

Compiled by's Paul Wagenseil.

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