April 3, 2001
Beetle mania

Beetle mania

San Francisco police woke up to quite a sight one morning last month.

Beetle mania

Beetle mania

San Francisco police woke up to quite a sight one morning last month. A red Volkswagen Beetle had been suspended from the Golden Gate Bridge and was hanging 100 ft above the ocean.

The feat wasn’t quite as surprising, though, when police noticed an "E" and a maple leaf emblazoned on the side of the car.

It seems the stunt was part of a 20-year-old tradition at the University of British Columbia. Every year engineering students hold E Week and hang Beetles from buildings or bridges around Vancouver. This year the prank moved across the border for the opportunity of more press. (Mission accomplished.)

The only leads police have are eyewitness accounts of about a dozen people stringing up the VW in 2-in.-wide nylon webbing in the middle of the night. Authorities feel that having to live in Canada may be punishment enough, though.

Love on the road

While road rage continues to sweep America’s highways, a Wichita, Kan., man was recently arrested for quite the opposite.

Driving down I-70, Kevin Thompson, a 24-year-old Land Air Express driver, began flashing his lights at a female driver and pointing toward the back of her car. When the woman stopped to see what was wrong, Thompson pulled over in front of her.

Finding no damage to her car, the woman tried to get back in and drive away. But Rico Suave wasn’t having it. He stuck his foot in the door and leaned in twice asking for a kiss. After the second time, the woman pulled a gun on him.

After Loverboy retreated, the woman called the police and Thompson was met by local authorities at his next delivery stop. He was later arrested.

Smile, you're on paper

A judge in Santa Fe, N.M., was recently reprimanded for allowing police to draw happy or frowny faces on traffic tickets to describe a driver’s demeanor.

Municipal Judge Fred Arnold was found guilty of misconduct by permitting the drawings because it was found to be illegal, one-sided communication between an officer and a judge.

Judge Arnold was not accused of favoring either happy or frowny drivers, but was still assigned to counseling with a retired judge.

Free moon lighting

A wrecking crew recently made a slight boo-boo in Texarkana, Ark.

The city-hired crew saw no signs marking the property they were supposed to demolish, so they called the public works department to make sure they had the right address.

"They asked us if there were trees that were covering it up and we said ‘yes,’" said Johnny Mack Richardson, spokesperson for Richardson Environmental and Excavation Services. "They said, ‘then you’re at the right place.’"

It wasn’t until the home was flattened that city officials realized the one actually scheduled for demolition was across the street–also shaded by trees.

The owner of the demolished home, who lives in California, was notified of the mistake and a settlement is being worked out.

Turns out to be a good idea

When Fernando Lopez decided to go for a drive around the world, he didn’t have to worry about getting sleepy behind the wheel. That’s because there wasn’t one.

The 34-year-old Argentine inventor recently finished a worldwide driving tour in his new sans steering-wheel car. In place of a steering wheel is a digital panel that accelerates, slows and turns the car with a mere touch of the finger.

Lopez got about 60 miles per gal on his trip through 25 countries across North America, Europe and Asia.

He said he has received offers from seven different car companies for his concept, including one for $45 million from a Japanese company in exchange for the patent.

Lopez said he got the idea watching a video on veterans wounded in the 1982 Falkland Islands war between Argentina and Britain.

Bridging the gaps

A recent Associated Press computer analysis of Federal Highway Administration records found that as of Aug. 31, 2000, more than one-quarter of the bridges in the U.S. were rated by the government as "deficient." And that’s actually an improvement.

Four years ago, 31% were deemed either in need of repair or too narrow or weak to handle the traffic that has to use them.

North Carolina, the "Good Roads State," was in one of the worst shapes with almost one-third of its bridges labeled deficient.

Some states are boosting spending on repairs. Utah has spent millions from a gas tax and the state’s general fund on their bridges trying to prepare for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

And Kansas, where one-quarter of the bridges are in need of help, has passed a 10-year, $13 billion transportation program.

The fine folks at are doing their part to make the pathetic among us a little more social.

You can now go to their website and type in the license plate of another motorist you stalked, er, saw on the road and send them a message.

The service is free, but for $6 you can advertise your loser status with a license plate holder that says "Find Me at"

If that’s not bad enough, this summer the company plans to offer a toll-free number that drivers can call with the license plate number of another driver. will then connect them to the other motorist’s cell phone. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned peeping?