Support for all our fears

In May, the firm Triumph International Japan said it would soon market the Armageddon Bra, with a sensor in the shoulder strap to warn wearers against doomsday objects falling from the sky. Also in May, an evangelical Christian organization in Hereford, England, announced that it had trained a 24-hour-a-day camera on Jerusalem's eastern gate to capture Jesus' millennial return (

Divine intervention

Sister Mary Rinaldi, director of development for the Salesian Sisters Roman Catholic order in New Jersey, told television reporters in April that more than 2,500 benefactors have paid $100 and up for nuns to pray for them daily. Rinaldi said the sisters are not selling their prayers; they will pray for anyone, she claimed, but contributors get special attention from their own designated nun. Proceeds fund the sisters' retirement home. A Pennsylvania order has a similar program, "One on One With a Nazareth Nun."

Teachers pet

In April, just as North Carolina Rep. Frank Mitchell was introducing his bill to plug a loophole in state law that did not fully punish schoolteachers who have sex with their students, the chief inspector of schools in Great Britain was still dealing with fallout from his February remarks that teacher-student sex could sometimes be "experiential and educative" and should not necessarily result in the teacher's firing.

Maternal sacrifice

Ms. Suphatra Chumphusri, explaining why she killed her drug-dealing son in December in Chiang Rai, Thailand: "No matter how much I loved him, I had to do it for the sake of the general society."

Losing a legume

In April in Fayetteville, Ark., exploding beans and rice tore a hole in the roof of Steve Tate's home. Tate had packed the food in frozen carbon dioxide in 6-foot-long pipes for later storage at a cabin, but the gas needed room to expand. A bomb squad from nearby Springdale exploded the other pipefuls Tate had prepared.

Burying the past

Livermore, Calif. (many of whose citizens work at the community's two nuclear-research labs), organized digging crews in June to search for its time capsule, which was created with great fanfare in 1974 but now cannot be found because no one remembers where it was buried. About the size of a beer keg, it was interred unceremoniously so as not to encourage thieves.

Organ malady

In April at the Westchester (N.Y.) Medical Center, surgeons were preparing a patient for a long-awaited kidney transplant when they realized that the kidney -- on ice in a plastic box in the operating room -- was missing. After an all-out, 90-minute search, the box and kidney were found in a trash bin, having been mistakenly set out for recycling. According to Medical Center officials, the kidney was still viable when implanted, but later failed for other reasons.

Hoard evidence

Ed's Museum (publicized in a May USA Today story) was bequeathed by Edwin Kruger to the town of Wykoff, Minn., in 1989. Consisting of Ed's stuff, it's of interest only because its curator lived alone and saved everything he ever owned. And the renovated William P. Didusch Museum in Baltimore, also known as the Museum on the History of Urology (subject of a January Baltimore Sun story), displays historical kidney-stone-remedying implements, which are not to be viewed by squeamish men.

Textbook queso

A May New York Times article profiled Max McCalman, the cheesemaster (or "maître fromager" ) at the upscale Picholine restaurant in Manhattan. "You must look at [the cheeses]," McCalman told the paper, "smell them, touch them, taste them. Sometimes, I even listen to them and they talk to me." His office is his dank, one-of-a-kind "cheese cave," in which he tends to his inventory for hours. Recently, a doctor diagnosed the pain in McCalman's arm as "cheese elbow," which has limited his personal slicing to the soft cheeses.

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