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The Odd Truth, May 16, 2005

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

Competitors Climb, Grab Buns

HONG KONG - At the strike of a gong Monday, 12 competitors scrambled up a 46-foot tower covered with Chinese buns and snatched away, relaunching a local tradition after a 26-year break.

Secured by safety ropes, the contestants tossed plastic-wrapped buns into bags on their backs as hundreds of spectators watched from below. The climbing sent some buns flying from the tower.

The buns, stuffed with lotus seed paste, were divided into three zones, with the higher buns worth more points. The competitor racking up the most points in three minutes was the winner.

The victor had climbing in his blood. Kwok Ka-ming, who scored 453 points -- 30 more than his closest competitor -- is a firefighter by trade.

"This win is unexpected," Kwok said. "When I got up there, I found it was very difficult. Up there you can't hear anything. I just focused on snatching."

The bun-snatching contest on the suburban island of Cheung Chau was canceled after a bun tower collapsed in 1978, injuring 100 people.

Officials revived the tradition, part of an annual "bun festival," this year after implementing improved safety measures. Workers built a sturdier tower and bun snatchers received mountaineering training. A preliminary competition reduced the pool of climbers to 12 finalists.

The festival originated hundreds of years ago when Cheung Chau residents dressed up as gods to ward off evil spirits they believed to be responsible for a plague, according to one account.

Deer Carted Out Of Wal-Mart

NORFOLK, Neb. - So exactly how do you stop a charging deer in Wal-Mart? You take away its credit card.

Shoppers at the Wal-Mart here wish they would have thought of that. It would have been a whole lot easier.

A deer without a grocery list entered through the doors of the supermarket part of the store Thursday.

The store's greeter didn't see the deer enter through the exit, but she did see the critter when it hit the slick floor and fell. It quickly recovered and went scurrying down the aisles.

After doing a little looking around, the deer was tackled by a customer. Others of the human persuasion then tied the deer's legs so it couldn't kick, placed it in a shopping cart and pushed it outside.

Officials took the animal to nearby Tahazouka Park and released it.

Chili-Finger Shocker

SAN FRANCISCO - We're learning more about how a fingertip ended up in a bowl of fast-food chili.

It was apparently pinched off in the tailgate of a truck during a work accident in Nevada.

A worker with Lamb Asphalt Maintenance tells the San Francisco Chronicle that a laborer lost the tip of his finger five months ago.

At the time, both men were working with the husband of Anna Ayala. Ayala is the woman suspected of planting a severed finger in a bowl of chili at a Wendy's in San Jose, California.

Police have said the man who lost his finger is cooperating with authorities. Investigators have not released his identity.

Ayala is in jail on suspicion of attempted grand theft. She claimed she bit into the finger in March and filed a claim against the restaurant chain shortly afterward. The publicity resulted in a major loss of business for Wendy's.

The Life Aquatic

PLEASANT PRAIRIE, Wis. - Rich Henry is going down this summer and plans on staying down. The Wisconsin scuba diver hopes to set a new Guinness record by spending seven days underwater. The current record is five. Henry will have a team of relay divers to bring new air tanks at Lake Andrea in Prairie Springs Park. His record attempt in July will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Wisconsin and the volunteer Kenosha County Dive Rescue Team. Henry plans to have more to do than just watch the fish. He'll take along a waterproof iPod, Palm pilot and a DVD player. Henry will also be sleeping with the fishes. He says catching a few "Z's" underwater is the most euphoric sensation he's ever experienced.

Condoms Clog Lake Michigan

MILWAUKEE - Officials in Milwaukee are battling a different sort of water pollution -- used condoms. More than two years ago a fisherman reported seeing thousands of condoms floating on Lake Michigan. The rubber fish were making it through the city's sewage plant. Now, after spending nearly $2 million, officials say they have a temporary fix. It's a series of large condom nets. But the nets have to be changed every two or three weeks. A permanent solution to the condom pollution is part of a treatment plant upgrade. However, officials say that won't be completed until 2009.

Twins Share A Due Date

MIDDLEBURG HEIGHTS, Ohio - Twins Mary Maurer and Melanie Glavich have something new to share -- motherhood. The sisters gave birth to sons 35 minutes apart last week. Maurer and Glavich say they weren't surprised to share the same due date, May 27th, for their second babies. But the twin sisters went into labor early. They delivered a few hours later in side-by-side rooms at a hospital in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. Perhaps the busiest person of all was the twins' grandmother, Cheryl Prosser. She ran back and forth between her laboring daughters taking digital pictures. She says she felt a little guilty about not being with each the whole time.

Detention For Hugging

BEND, Ore. - Middle-schooler Cazz Altomare is learning to keep her hugging to herself. The Bend, Oregon, 14-year-old got detention earlier this year for hugging her boyfriend in the halls of Sky View Middle School. Her mother didn't like the punishment a bit. When Leslee Swanson picked up Cazz from detention, she made a point of giving her a good, hard hug. Area school officials say they're not trying to be the romance police, but public displays of affection have no place in school.

His Weapon Sucks

MUNCIE, Ind. - Michael Shewman won't be cleaning up with his vacuum cleaner. He's been sentenced to 20 years in prison after pretending that a vacuum cleaner attachment was a gun. Authorities say Shewman admits to robbing a Village Pantry and Mutual Federal Savings Bank in Muncie, Indiana, last July. He's pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, the weapon being the vacuum cleaner nozzle.

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