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The Odd Truth, July 12, 2004

The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by's Brian Bernbaum.

Burr Shoots Hamilton, Again

WEEHAWKEN, N.J. - It's history, and not hatred, that brought descendants of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr together yesterday for a reenactment of their famous duel.

In period costume, Antonio Burr and Douglas Hamilton marked their paces with replica pistols in hand exactly 200 years to the day that their famous ancestors faced off to settle their longtime feud.

More than one thousand people attended the ceremony in New Jersey, including an estimated 60 descendants of Hamilton and 40 members of the Aaron Burr Association.

Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in the duel, but Douglas Hamilton only dropped to one knee during the re-enactment. Afterward, he said it was nice to meet Antonio Burr - though he doubted he'd make Burr's Christmas card list.

A Ripe Old Mutt

CANBERRA, Australia - A 26-year-old mongrel living with an Aboriginal family in Australia's Outback has the potential to become the world's oldest living dog, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Jerry, an Australian cattle dog-bull terrier cross, will next month turn 27 - the equivalent of 189 years for a human - said Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals veterinarian Honey Nelson in Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"He will be 27 ... years in August - I have no doubt at all," Nelson reportedly said after examining Jerry. "He could push on to 28, going by his good body condition."

The oldest living dog in the 2004 edition of "Guinness World Records" is Butch, a 27-year-old beagle in the U.S. state of Virginia.

Jerry's owner, Waddie Harris - an Aboriginal tribal leader in New South Wales state's Wilcannia town, put Jerry's longevity down to his high-protein diet of Outback wildlife.

"Jerry has grown up on kangaroo, rabbit and emu as well as scraps off the table," the newspaper quoted Harris as saying.

An Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who died in 1939 at age 29, is thought to have been the world's oldest dog, the newspaper said.

Follow Your Nose

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The stench broke the case of the missing halibut.

A fishy stink led airline officials to what they believe is the 40 pounds of halibut a traveler reported missing from his checked bags two weeks ago.

Brenee Davis, a general manager for Continental Airlines in Anchorage, said the company's baggage handlers discovered "a ton of rotting fish" under a luggage conveyor belt recently at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

She suspects it was the halibut passenger Ray Bolanos reported missing from a cooler he checked on a June 24 flight from Anchorage to Seattle. The fish was thrown away immediately.

"We've gone through a few cans of Lysol," Davis said.

Davis' theory is that Bolanos' cooler wasn't properly secured and came open on the conveyor belt.

Bolanos doesn't buy that explanation.

When his fish cooler came off the luggage carousel in Seattle, he said he found a rope he had tied around the chest inside and his 40 individually wrapped one-pound chunks of halibut gone.

"It's not something that was chewed off. It was a clear cut," Bolanos said Saturday, when he was reached on his cell phone in Kenmore, Wash.

Davis said workers initially thought the smell was related to construction at the airport. Then it got worse.

"There was mass migration down there to figure out what the smell was," she said.

Bullfalo Chip Tossed 108 Feet

CHADRON, Neb. - A 19-year-old man took top honors at a contest here like no other.

Ed Sydow threw a dried buffalo dropping 108 feet, nine inches Saturday to be named winner of the World Championship Buffalo Chip Toss.

Janalee Cole of Buffalo, Wyo., took the women's title throwing 68 feet.

The event is more than 20 years old and organizers say they have not heard of any other such contest - nor have they been challenged for claiming the event is the world championship.

The top three winners in each age and sex division took home a plaque featuring a gold, silver or bronze-painted buffalo chip.

The event was part of the annual Chadron Fur Trade Days celebration.

A Good, Old-Fashioned Book Burning

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes.

Preachers and congregations throughout American history have built bonfires and tossed in books and other materials they believed offended God. The Rev. Scott Breedlove, pastor of The Jesus Church, wanted to rekindle that tradition in a July 28 ceremony where books, CDs, videos and clothing would have been thrown into the flames.

Not so fast, city officials said.

"We don't want a situation where people are burning rubbish as a recreational fire," said Brad Brenneman, the fire department's district chief.

Linn County won't go for a fire outside city limits, either. Officials said the county's air quality division prohibits the transporting of materials from the city to the county for burning.

Breedlove said a city fire inspector suggested shredding the offending material, but Breedlove said that wouldn't seem biblical.

"I joked with the guy that St. Paul never had to worry about fire codes," Breedlove said.

The new plan calls for members of the church to throw materials into garbage cans and then light candles to symbolically "burn" the material.

A Novel Idea For Cell Phones

BEIJING - Coming to a mobile phone near you: A novel.

A Chinese author has written a novel meant to be read in 70-word chapters transmitted by mobile phone text message.

"Outside the Fortress Besieged," the story of an extramarital affair, consists of 60 such chapters totaling about 4,000 words, the Xinhua News Agency said.

"The plot develops just like that of an ordinary novel," author Qian Fuchang was quoted as saying.

The potential market is huge: China has the world's biggest mobile phone market, with more than 300 million users.

They are avid buyers of services that send news, sports, horoscopes and other material by mobile phone message.

Qian's employer, the Guangdong Literature Academy in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, is planning an auction to sell the novel to short message services.

"The novel, which contains all literary elements, will be a real literary work," said Xie Wangxin, the academy's vice chairman.

Seagull Crashes Into Pilot

PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - A pilot bringing mail to four Lake Erie islands needed 20 stitches to his face after a seagull crashed through the windshield of the twin-engine airplane.

Harry Thomas Griffing III, 21, of Sandusky, took off from Put-in-Bay Airport on South Bass Island about 9:30 a.m. Friday when he looked away from the flight path for a moment.

When he looked back the bird was heading toward the middle of the windshield.

"It was such a split-second thing," Griffing said, adding he didn't have time to avoid the bird. "I was a little disoriented."

Co-worker Ernest Owen Jr., also of Sandusky, grabbed the controls of the airplane as Griffing recovered from the shock.

"I said, `Hey, am I bleeding?"' Griffing said. "He said, `Yeah.' Once I figured out I wasn't hurt that badly I took over the controls and landed it at Middle Bass Airport."

His injuries appeared worse because he was covered with blood from the deceased seagull.

"I didn't know what was what," Griffing said.

"By then I had lost enough blood I was feeling woozy," Griffing said. The Federal Aviation Administration office in Cleveland was contacted about the accident.

Griffing has flown since he was 17 years old and flies nearly every day.

"I love it," Griffing said. "I don't like getting hit in the face, but I love it."

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