Skip to main content

Dispatches Quick Takes

Quick Takes

The Sagrada Familia (Frank Rumpenhorst/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP )

Grandfathered in

After more than a century of construction, the Sagrada Família finally has a building permit. On June 7 the city government of Barcelona, Spain, issued what is apparently the first building permit ever obtained by the iconic Catholic church. Work on the 137-year-old project first began in 1882, and famed Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí directed the construction and design beginning the next year. Officials with the privately funded modernist masterpiece expect the building to be finished in 2026.

 


 

Krieg Barrie

Krieg Barrie

Airplane accommodations

How could flight attendants have missed her? Tiffani Adams dozed off during her flight on an Air Canada passenger plane that was traveling from Quebec to Toronto on June 9. When she finally awoke around midnight, she was indeed in Toronto, but found herself all alone: Other passengers and crew had disembarked, shut off the engines, and turned out the lights, leaving her shut up inside the empty airplane cabin. Though Adams managed to signal a luggage cart operator for help using a flashlight she scrounged from the cockpit, she says she’s had “reoccurring night terrors” since the incident. Air Canada officials have expressed their apologies.

 


 

iStock/Handout

iStock/Handout

Summer dream job

Reynolds Group probably won’t need to look far for applicants for one of the company’s newest job openings. The company, which owns the Reynolds Wrap brand, has announced it’s looking to hire someone for two weeks to travel across America in search of the best barbecue ribs in the country. According to Reynolds, the “Chief Grilling Officer” will be responsible for posting photos and videos to the company’s social media accounts during the two-week stint in early August. For the work, the foil giant announced it would pay $10,000.

 


 

Channel One Russia

Channel One Russia

Invasion of the flies

Life for some Russian villagers earlier this summer felt like a Biblical plague. Russian media reported in mid-June that colossal swarms of flies had descended upon villages in the Urals region—so many that some residents avoided venturing outside. One man swept mounds of dead flies from his home with a broom: “Every day or two there’s enough to fill a bucket, half a bucket.” Reports have traced the outbreak to wet, warm weather and a local farmer’s use of tons of presumably maggot-infested chicken droppings as fertilizer. The farmer has deflected blame. “Flies have existed for millions of years, and they are everywhere,” he said. “No one can tell me what the acceptable or cut-off number of flies is.”


 

WITT/SIPA/AP

WITT/SIPA/AP

Bird blitz

A Canadian university issued a Hitchcockian warning to students in June: Beware the crows. In a memorandum sent to students, officials with Acadia University in Nova Scotia warned students to avoid carrying food in places where crows congregate. Spokesman Scott Roberts said the campus crows have a long history of dive-bombing students holding food or wearing shiny objects. Recounting a recent incident, Roberts told the CBC about one bird’s harassment of a female student. “The crow was after her muffin that she had in her hand,” he said. “If it’s extreme, carry an umbrella over your head.”

 


 

Royalbroil

Royalbroil

Winner take all

Dollar Loan Center founder Chuck Brennan wants out of South Dakota. After a change in the state law made his payday lending company untenable in the state in 2016, Brennan pulled up stakes in South Dakota and put everything—from real estate to radio stations—up for sale. But Brennan hasn’t been able to sell his Sioux Falls–area racetrack. In an effort to finally be free of the Badlands Motor Speedway, Brennan announced he’d hold one last race, scheduled for Aug. 13. The first-place finisher will win the track and everything that comes with it. Brennan says he’s charging teams a nonrefundable $200,000 to enter a car to help compensate for the $6 million renovation his company funded three years ago. Winning the racetrack, Brennan said, would be the biggest prize in auto racing history: Last year’s winner of the Indy 500 bagged only $2.7 million, whereas Brennan had listed the Badlands property for $9 million.


 

Handout

Remopita Pongi (Handout)

Off the beaten path

Facing a 50-mile hike along the coast of New Zealand, Remopita Pongi checked Google Maps and saw what appeared to be a simple shortcut: He could cut 15 miles off his trip if only he swam across a tidal estuary. What wasn’t so obvious was the riptide in the water. The 29-year-old New Zealand man was trying to walk home June 15 after his brother abandoned him about 50 miles from home. Pongi decided to walk, and a look at his iPhone app suggested a shorter route would be to swim across an inlet branching from the Bay of Plenty. But once in the middle of the estuary, a strong riptide dragged him 1½ miles out to sea. The New Zealander survived by floating on a piece of driftwood for three hours until a water scooter rider spotted him and rescuers arrived.


 

Carline Jean/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images

The 1-foot-by-100-foot strip of property (Carline Jean/Sun Sentinel/TNS via Getty Images)

Location, location, location

A South Florida man received an expensive lesson in caveat emptor when he tried to buy what seemed like an extremely cheap house. Kerville Holness believed he was buying a home and corresponding land when he won a Broward County property auction with a $9,100 bid. But rather than a house valued at $177,000, what Holness actually bought was a 1-foot-by-100-foot strip of land that bisected a duplex. The 100-square-foot strip was created when the developer sold both sides of the duplex and forgot to include the narrow tract. After that, the company dissolved and ceased paying property taxes. Holness told the Sun Sentinel he would challenge the sale in court arguing that he didn’t know he was bidding on a worthless property. He had no plans to try to recoup his losses from the neighbors: “If I’m vindictive enough, I can cut right through the garage wall and the home to get to my air space, but what use would that be to me?”


 

Handout

Handout

Stepping out of lines

A European court has a tough message for sportswear company Adidas: You cannot trademark your stripes. Adidas asked regulators to protect the three-stripe pattern emblazoned on many of its shoes and other apparel products following a challenge by a rival shoe company from Belgium. But on June 19 the General Court of the European Union ruled, “The mark is not a pattern mark composed of a series of regularly repetitive elements but an ordinary figurative mark.” Adidas expressed disappointment with the decision but noted it applied only to a specific version of its emblem: three parallel black lines divided by two white ones.