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Odds and Ends

March 26, 2001

LIDGERWOOD, N.D. (AP) _ Maybe it’s the deep violet color, or the sound of the diesel engine, or the honk of the horn. No matter the attraction, wherever Ken Heley’s Ford pickup truck goes, so too goes Heley’s pet Canada goose Bubbles.

Bubbles prefers to fly at window level, cruising at 40 mph on the driver’s side, whenever Heley’s two-ton truck leaves the farm.

Heley found the week-old abandoned gosling in one of his fields last April and took him home.

After noticing his predilection for the Ford, Ken and his wife Donna tried to train Bubbles to glide on the passenger side, where the ditch is a much safer flyway. Occasionally a wide right turn will get him to flip-flop, but the goose prefers the view from the driver’s side.

Stories of birds imprinting with humans are not uncommon. The film ``Fly Away Home,″ revolved around a flock of geese following a pilot in an ultra-light aircraft. But in that case the bird imprinted on the person, not the machine.

Bubbles’ devotion to the 1999 pickup appears unwavering. The goose refuses to follow Ken or Donna in any other vehicle.

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _ Post Office employees weren’t taking any chances when they heard a ticking sound coming from a package.

They called 911 on Saturday and police closed off the streets leading to the building.

Fire Investigator Jack Bruns, a bomb technician who responded to the scene, said he knew immediately what he had on his hands _ a motorized Tonka toy truck that was accidentally turned on in the process of being mailed.

``I’ve got so many grandkids and I’ve bought so many toys like that I recognized the sound,″ Bruns said.

Bruns said anyone mailing similar toys should remove the batteries first, saving both the post office and bomb disposal team unnecessary work.

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NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Vail prefers to travel light: no luggage, not even a boarding pass.

The golden retriever was one of 50 dogs and their handlers who were at Newark International Airport on Saturday to become familiar with the sights, smells and feel of the place. The dogs eventually will be trained to guide a blind person through the airport.

United Airlines supervisor Eileen Ammiano advised the handlers and fielded questions such as how long can dogs spend on an airplane without having to go to the bathroom _ some have gone 14 hours on transoceanic flights _ and does the airline provide dog food?

At nearly 6 months old, Vail had already learned to respond to commands to sit and heel. But he was also one of the more rambunctious dogs at the airport outing, fidgeting and barking when he had to sit still too long. Luckily for his trainer, Vail was not one of the two dogs that left behind little souvenirs on the concourse carpeting on their way to the plane.

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LEWISBURG, W.Va. (AP) _ Don’t expect S.J. Neathawk to sit out his retirement in a rocking chair.

Neathawk, who turns 103 on April 10, stopped manning the cash register after his 100th birthday but he still makes the daily trip to the family-owned lumber store that bears his name.

Neathawk started working as a 13-year-old water boy at a sawmill.

``I’d check the men four times a day to see if they wanted any (water),″ said Neathawk. ``I made about 60 cents a day.″

After three years, he ran the lumber section of the sawmill and made enough money to buy his first car, a Chevrolet, for $300.

In 1947, he opened the S.J. Neathawk Lumber Co. His next project is opening a new store, complete with a decorating center, next to the existing operation.

When asked about the secret to his success, Neathawk had a simple answer: ``Good clean living and helping other people when you can.″

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