Incessant insect buzzing is a fate almost as bad as jail, a Cincinnati man argued to a judge late last month.
Joe Armstrong had been convicted of selling $20 worth of cocaine and was facing sentencing before Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Steve Martin on June 30, reports the Cincinnati Post.
Before Martin decided whether to give Armstrong the maximum year in prison, he asked him if there was anything he wanted to say.
Amstrong asked for probation instead of jail time — because this spring's invasion of Brood X cicadas (search) had been enough punishment.
"What did the cicadas have to do with it?" asked Martin.
"They caused my wife, she was terrified, so she rode me as long as they was here," Armstrong replied. "I suffered so much mental anguish, it's just by the grace of God that I still have my sanity at this point in time."
"I don't think probation will work here," Martin answered, noting that Armstrong had been placed on probation 10 times since 1985, had not completed any of the terms of probation and was in fact wanted in Alabama for a 1996 violation.
"If I was to do six months, I would likely come home to nothing," he said. "No wife. No phone. Nothing."
Martin gave him six months in the Hamilton County Justice Center anyway — but made him eligible to cut that time to two months with work details.
As for the cicadas, there are none in the Justice Center, said Hamilton County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Barnett.
— Thanks to Out There reader Scot F.
CHADRON, Neb. (AP) — A 19-year-old man took top honors at a contest here like no other.
Ed Sydow threw a dried buffalo dropping 108 feet, nine inches Saturday to be named winner of the World Championship Buffalo Chip Toss (search).
Janalee Cole of Buffalo, Wyo., took the women's title throwing 68 feet.
The event is more than 20 years old and organizers say they have not heard of any other such contest — nor have they been challenged for claiming the event is the world championship.
The top three winners in each age and sex division took home a plaque featuring a gold, silver or bronze-painted buffalo chip.
The event was part of the annual Chadron Fur Trade Days celebration.
— Thanks to Out There reader Patti G.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — Fort Carson Staff Sgt. Rick Bousfield of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team had a mission: Saving Pvt. Hammer.
Pfc. Hammer is an Iraqi tabby cat the unit adopted after he was born last fall at a base in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad.
When Bousfield found out his unit was leaving Iraq in March, he decided he couldn't leave a member of his team behind.
"He has been through mortar attacks," said Bousfield, a 19-year Army veteran. "He'd jump and get scared liked the rest of us. He is kind of like one of our own."
Pfc. Hammer got his name from the unit that adopted him, Team Hammer. Soldiers would tuck Hammer in their body armor during artillery attacks, and in return, Hammer chased mice in the mess hall.
"He was a stress therapist," Bousfield said. "The guys would come back in tired and stressed. Hammer would come back and bug the heck out of you. He wiped away some worries."
The kitten earned his rank after nabbing five mice.
When Bousfield learned his unit was going, he sent an e-mail to Alley Cat Allies (search), a national clearinghouse of information on stray cats, asking for help bringing Hammer along.
Alley Cat Allies raised $2,500 for Hammer's shots, sterilization, paperwork and a plane ride to the United States.
Hammer left Iraq with his unit in March, then flew from Kuwait to San Francisco in cargo class. He traveled first class with an Alley Cat Allies volunteer to Denver.
Bousfield met the kitten at the airport.
ST. PAUL (AP) — Erik Hobbie was amazed at his own stupidity.
The St. Paul native and ice fisherman had known for months how he would propose to his girlfriend. Over Thanksgiving weekend last year at his family's cabin near Ely in far northern Minnesota, he had his chance.
Hobbie woke up early that morning to drill holes in the ice on Burntside Lake and erect a tip-up — a spring-loaded device that indicates a fish has taken the bait.
On the end of the line he tied his grandmother's heirloom diamond ring.
Poorly, as it turned out.
When he went to the hole with his girlfriend, Pamala Gahr, and they pulled up the line, the ring was gone.
"When he got to the end, he just looked at it in kind of horror," said Gahr. She didn't believe him until he produced the empty jewelry box.
"There was nothing we could do but laugh," Gahr said. "Then we just stood there staring at the hole for quite some time trying to figure out what to do."
Hobbie, 44, who works as a chemical engineer in Washington, D.C., popped the question on the spot anyway. Gahr, 37, a native of Champlin, said, "Yes."
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Three times was the charm for police who apprehended a teen bicyclist after the third robbery in a week of the same gas station.
Police said Monday that the 18-year-old man was arrested in connection with the robberies at East Mason Shell. The final heist was Sunday night, and it followed robberies the previous Tuesday and again on Friday. The description of the robber in all three cases was similar.
After the first two robberies, Officer Dave Steffens staked out the station area.
Once the call about the robbery came in, Steffens spotted a suspect pedaling a bicycle and took him into custody without incident.
Christopher R. Harris was charged Monday with three counts of armed robbery, carrying a possible sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
BEIJING (AP) — Coming to a mobile phone near you: A novel.
A Chinese author has written a novel meant to be read in 70-word chapters transmitted by mobile phone text message.
"Outside the Fortress Besieged," the story of an extramarital affair, consists of 60 such chapters totaling about 4,000 words, the Xinhua News Agency said.
"The plot develops just like that of an ordinary novel," author Qian Fuchang was quoted as saying.
The potential market is huge: China has the world's biggest mobile phone market, with more than 300 million users.
They are avid buyers of services that send news, sports, horoscopes and other material by mobile phone message.
Qian's employer, the Guangdong Literature Academy in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, is planning an auction to sell the novel to short message services.
"The novel, which contains all literary elements, will be a real literary work," said Xie Wangxin, the academy's vice chairman.
Compiled by FOXNews.com's Paul Wagenseil.
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