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Blessing the animals

"The annual [fall] observance honouring St. Francis of Assisi's love of animals has morphed into community events with church outreach, creation celebration and recognition for our non-human friends," writes James D. Davis of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "The rituals are pretty much up to the blesser. At St. Joseph's Episcopal Church in Boynton Beach, Fla., last weekend, the Rev. Martin Zladic began the blessing with: 'Bow-wow, meow and any other animal languages to say hello.' He recited from Genesis, a creation canticle from the Book of Common Prayer and Ode to Joy by Beethoven. … Even a couple of South Florida synagogues will get into the act later in the month – not for Francis, of course, but for Noah. October is when synagogues read the Torah portion about the hero who saved an arkful of animals from a worldwide flood. At Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach, Rabbi Anthony Fratello and Cantor Aaron Kaplan have blessed the likes of fish, crabs, lizards, even a dog in a skullcap and prayer shawl. People can bring stuffed animals if they don't have the real thing."

What it's like at the top

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"He takes off his oxygen mask and takes a couple of careful breaths," writes Lukas Eberle in Der Spiegel. "His throat quickly begins to constrict. The air is so thin that Aydin Irmak, 46, feels as if he were suffocating. He quickly puts the mask back on. Then he looks around. Is this the place, he wonders? [Mr.] Irmak is walking across a slightly sloping area of ice, under a deep blue sky. He sees a small glass case with a Buddha statue inside. Yes, this is the place. [Mr.] Irmak is standing on the summit of Mount Everest. The date is May 19, 2012, the temperature is -37C and the wind is icy. The highest point on Earth … is a godforsaken place. [Mr.] Irmak is the last of 176 climbers to have reached the summit on this day."

Scarecrow with a degree

"A [British] student who graduated from university with a degree in music and English is putting his skills to good use in a Norfolk field after being employed as a human scarecrow," says The Daily Telegraph. "Jamie Fox, 22, who recently graduated from Bangor University, will use a ukulele, accordion and cowbell to frighten away troublesome partridges. … Mr. Fox will earn [$390] a week patrolling the 10-acre field. Wearing a bright orange coat, he will play the musical instruments in a bid to finally scare off the hardy birds, which were unperturbed by ordinary scarecrows."

Judge does jury duty

"A western Pennsylvania judge spent the day in the county courthouse – but not in her usual seat," says Associated Press. "Instead, Cambria County Judge Linda Fleming sat among 119 other people who reported for jury duty Thursday at the courthouse about 115 kilometres east of Pittsburgh. [Judge] Fleming says she felt it was important to serve and not use her position as an excuse to get out of jury duty. Potential jurors watch an orientation video in which [Judge] Fleming and four other judges explain the process. … [Judge] Fleming was picked for a 36-member panel assigned to a criminal case. But she wasn't seated as one of the case's 12 jurors after an attorney objected."

Student doses teacher

"A North Carolina teacher says a student 'spiked her coffee with butt-enhancing pills,'" The Huffington Post reports. "According to WBTV, 61-year-old Ellen Vick, a teacher at Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C., told police that a student put a 'butt-enhancing' drug in her coffee during class. Investigators said the drug was GluteBoost, a supplement that claims to plump up one's derrière." Police are still investigating the incident, but the student is said to have been disciplined.

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Thought du jour

"Never assume that habitual silence means ability in reserve."

Geoffrey Madan, English aphorist (1895-1947)

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