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 V.13 No.32 | August 5 - 11, 2004 

Odds & Ends

Dateline: England—An inmate, upset at conditions in his new minimum security prison, escaped and walked 63 miles back to his old prison. According to The Sun, reformed junkie Paul Parry left the Prescoed prison near Usk, Monmouthshire, and walked for some 30 hours to his old jail in Swansea where prison officers found him knocking on the door begging to be let in. Parry was sentenced to five and a half years in 2002 for smuggling heroin in Wales. A tough anti-drug program at Swansea is credited with helping Parry kick the drug habit. The newly reformed Parry was recently transferred to Prescoed, a halfway house where prisoners have keys to their own cells. Parry's girlfriend told The Sun that the new facility is rife with drugs and that Parry feared he'd slip back into his old habits. A prison panel is deciding now whether Parry can serve out the rest of his term in Swansea.

Scott Rickson

Dateline: Iran—A 50-year-old man who lost his keys 16 years ago found them exactly where he left them—embedded in his left leg. The unnamed man was taken to a local hospital after he felt a sharp pain in his leg. An X-ray showed the keys were lodged in his leg. The man remembered accidentally firing a rifle 16 years ago, injuring his leg, but could not explain how the keys got there. The bullet was removed, but the keys were left in place.

Dateline: England—An elderly gentleman has been told that he's the only living person in the world with his surname. Mike Pimbury, who lives in North London, was never married and had no children. After a worldwide search going back more than 300 years and taking in New Zealand, Australia and Canada, genealogists have told the 73-year-old that he is the only living Pimbury in the world. “I don't mind being the last Pimbury,” Pimbury told The Times of London. “But it does seem a shame that the name is going to die out.” After two years of fruitless research, Pimbury and his sister Jo Wilkes turned to Southampton-based genealogist Karen Bali. “I have worked cases where the surname is quite rare, but this is the first case that I have worked on where it is actually confirmed as the last,” said Bali.

Dateline: Brazil—A woman has helped out her country's recently launched guns-for-money program by turning in an arsenal of about 1,300 firearms last Friday. A federal police spokeswoman in the city of Sao Paulo said the woman, who will receive $65,600 for the weaponry, told the police she was the daughter of a late gun collector. Police transported the guns, which ranged from muskets to mortar shells, from the woman's house under strict security. Federal police hope to take 80,000 guns from the streets by the end of the program in December.

Dateline: Wisconsin—Leland Laird of Appleton, Wis., hasn't had much luck with trains. The 54-year-old Laird has been wheelchair-bound since 1989 when a car he was driving was struck by a train near the town of Fremont. Last Tuesday evening, Laird was sitting near the train tracks flipping off the crew of passing trains when the gas tank on a train engine clipped the man's wheelchair, damaging it. Laird was treated at Appleton Medical Center for an abrasion to his left arm that he said occurred when he fell out of the damaged chair. Surprisingly, Laird's previous run-in with the locomotive industry was not to blame for his recent finger-pointing session. According to Appleton police, Laird frequently positions himself where train crews can see him as they pass through Appleton's near north side and has made obscene gestures at them frequently enough that engineers and conductors consider him a regular. Apparently, it's Laird's way of protesting the noise. “He was upset by the horns,” Appleton Police Lt. Pat Matuszewski told the Post-Cresent. “He lives right near that intersection. That's his way of addressing the loud horns blowing.” Appleton police hope to find a less dangerous way for Laird to express himself in the future. “We'll put him in touch with the right people to make sure his concerns are heard,” Matuszewski said.

Dateline: Japan—Japan's Justice Ministry has finally published a new, expanded list of “approved” names for children, including “Buttocks” and “Prostitute.” The list comes comes as a compromise between parents and officials, who argued over the inclusion of offensive words. Japan's system of writing, which evolved from ancient Chinese script, was simplified after World War II when the government abolished thousands of characters. Officials in Tokyo have been under pressure in recent years, however, to reinstate some obscure or archaic characters, allowing parents more freedom in naming their children. A list of 578 additional characters was recently drawn up by the ministry, but nine of the most controversial characters, including “Rape,” “Excrement” and “Cancer” were removed last week after parental protest.

Compiled by Devin D. O'Leary. E-mail your weird news to devin@alibi.com.

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