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Never Mind the Pages, Her Mind Does the Walking

November 16, 1986|LARRY PRYOR

A long-distance telephone operator in the city of Harbin in northeastern China is doing her best to improve the service. Gou Yanling, 26, has memorized 15,000 phone numbers in 10 cities, a feat that earned her the title of "China's walking telephone book." "I often memorize telephone numbers when I watch television, see advertisements or pass shops and factories," she said. "I will continue my efforts to improve service and will try to memorize 18,000 telephone numbers by August next year."

--Mark Pietig, 13, of Eagan, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, acted as millions of other boys would have when he came across a "weird rock" while walking through a construction site. "I was tossing it around, showing it to everybody," he said. Then he showed it to Robert Clouse, an archeologist with the Minnesota Historical Society, who told him it was an 8,000-year-old spearhead. Clouse said that most experts had ruled out the Twin Cities area as a settlement of prehistoric humans, but now Mark's discovery "gives us some direction to rethink what was going on here."

--Prince Charles and Princess Diana watched local pastimes--camel racing, falcon hunting and Bedouin dancing--on their second day in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Earlier, as part of their tour of the Arabian Peninsula, the couple had parted so that the princess, a former teacher, could visit an English-speaking school while the prince toured Qatar National Museum. There, Charles was presented with two bottles of Arabian perfume for his wife. "There is no witchcraft effect," museum director Darwish Far said of the perfumes. "When you are in a good mood, everything pleases you. When you are in a bad mood, nothing in the universe interests you."

--All teachers compete for their students' attention, but Janet Madsen's classroom is backstage at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and it has to be close enough to the big top so that her six charges--who include a 16-year-old elephant trainer, a unicyclist and a high-wire acrobat--can dash off to perform. "If they're in the middle of a test and . . . hear their music cue, it's not as if they're being rude to me or disruptive to school, but they just leave," she said.

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