by Chuck Shepherd

This Will Hurt for Only a Second

Fern Cooper, 65, and 13 other cataractsurgery patients arrived at Ontario’s Oakville Trafalgar Hospital on June 25 to learn that they would not receive anesthesia because the hospital had decided  to schedule an “experimental day” to evaluate how unsedated patients responded. (The Ontario Health Insurance Plan had recently cut anesthesiologists’ fee.) A topical numbing gel, plus doctors’ reassurances were provided, but Cooper, diagnosed with severe anxiety, told the Toronto Star of the terror she felt when, fully awake, she watched the surgeon’s scalpel approaching, then cutting, her eyeball.

The Continuing Crisis

• According to a June lawsuit by a former student, Western Nevada College’s course in human sexuality was so over-the-top that it might be described as a collection of instructor Tom Kubistant’s erotic fantasies about college kids. Among Kubistant’s demands, according to “KR,” were keeping a masturbation journal (and ramping up the activity to twice the pre-course level), disclosing one’s sexual fantasies that in some cases were described by the instructor to the class, and conducting discussion groups on sex toys and lubricants. By the fifth week, KR claimed, Kubistant had begun to dwell extensively on “the female orgasm.” Kubistant’s instructions appear to fit the faculty handbook’s definition of sexual harassment.

• “Deer stands,” classically, are jerry-built platforms usedto spot deer, but county officials in Duluth, Minn. complained in July that the woods are becoming cluttered with elaborate tree houses that are too often abandoned on public land at the close of the season. One official was alarmed by “mansions” — tree stands, he told the Duluth News Tribune, with “stairways, decks, shingled roofs, commercial windows, insulation, propane heaters, carpeting, lounge chairs, tables and even the occasional generator.”

Bright Ideas

Rhesus monkeys have always posed delicate problems in India, where they are both revered (by Hindu law) and despised (for damaging property and roaming the streets begging for food). In Delhi, the rhesus population has grown dramatically, aided by the Hindus who feed them, and streets and private property are increasingly fouled. However, Amar Singh’s business is good. He owns 65 langurs (apes much more vicious than rhesus monkeys) and, for the equivalent of about $200 per month, periodically brings one or two by a client’s house to urinate in the yard so that the rhesus monkeys will steer clear.

Family Values

• Awww, mo-ther! Alleged drug dealer Jesus “Pepe” Fuentes, 37, was arrested in Chicago in May after his mother botched a heroin pickup for him. Fuentes, eager to catch a concert by rapper Scarface, sent his mother to gather the 10-kilo drop. She collected the drugs, but the shipment was lost when she failed to use a turn signal and was stopped by police.

• Catherine Venusto, 45, was arrested in July and charged with breaking into the computer system of the Northwestern Lehigh School District in Pennsylvania (where she formerly worked) and changing the records of her two children (and while at it, reading private e-mails of 10 school officials). Venusto allegedly switched a daughter’s F grade to M (for medically excused) and one grade of her overachieving son from 98 to 99.

Movie Scenes Come to Life

Romanian gang members have been apprehended after a series of robberies that resembled a scene from Fast and Furious. The gang’s vehicle approaches the rear of tractor-trailers at highway speed, and gangsters climb onto the hood, grab the rear door, open it using specialized tools and steal inventory without knowledge of the driver. In one video, the gang members, after peering inside the trailer, decided to take nothing and climbed back out.


Chicago staged its annual gun buy-back program in June (a $100 gift card for every firearm turned in) amidst its worst homicide epidemic in years, in which 259 have died in the first six months of 2012. However, the program appears to be a win-win for both anti- and pro-gun forces. The city reported that 5,500 guns were removed from circulation (bringing the total to 23,000 since the program was inaugurated); included this year were several machine guns. On the other hand, 60 of the guns were handed in by a pro-gun organization, Guns Save Life, which promised to use its gift cards to buy ammunition for a National Rifle Association-supported shooting camp for kids.

The Aristocrat!

Jacksonville, Fla., sheriff’s officers were investigating in July a suspect (not identified) who they believe is responsible for several incidents in which boxes of ready-to-use saline enemas were purchased at a CVS drugstore, opened, used, put back in the boxes, resealed and returned for refund (and which in some cases wound up back on the store’s shelves). The sheriff’s office noted that the man they suspect is in custody, having been arrested on unrelated charges in June.

© 2012 Chuck Shepherd. Universal Press Syndicate.