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The Odd Truth, May 5, 2005

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

Lightning Strikes Twice

SPRING HILL, Fla. - Emory Johnson can now talk about surviving a lightning strike not once, but twice.

The second jolt was much worse for the Tarpon Springs construction worker.

Johnson was working on an air-conditioning system when rain started and he moved his tools inside at a four-unit villa being built near Spring Hill.

He stepped off a fiberglass ladder and onto the floor Wednesday as lightning hit a 50-foot pine tree outside. The bolt tore a swath of bark off the tree, moved across a pile of ductwork and shot in a window.

"There was a loud bang, and it felt like I was burning inside, and I passed out," Johnson recalled. "When I woke up, I was shaking so bad I couldn't quit."

Hours after the jolt, his shoulders were sore, and "my whole body really feels like somebody beat me up." Still shaking, the 54-year-old joked, "If you want a milkshake, I can give you one. But it will only be half full."

His first lightning strike in 1986 happened as he sat in his truck at a Holiday intersection. The bolt burned the seats, fried the electrical system and left him tingling.

"I don't know if it's trying to follow me still or what," he said.

Officials Debate Apostrophe

MINNEAPOLIS - Apostrophe boosters were in mourning at the University of Minnesota after it was decided to name a fancy new walkway the Scholars Walk, not the Scholar's Walk.

"I'm terribly disappointed," said Larry Laukka, who leads the group developing the $4.5 million walkway. "I'll have to lick my wounds. But I'll get over it."

For weeks, the issue has bedeviled those at the university and beyond who care a great deal about such things. English professors, e-mailers from across the United States and even the Apostrophe Protection Society of England offered advice.

Laukka argued to board members of the nonprofit University Gateway Corp. that an apostrophe would add distinction by suggesting it is owned by those it honors.

That argument didn't work. The board voted 4-1 against the punctuation mark.

The board worried that the apostrophe would make the four-block walkway appear exclusive at a time the university wants to be inclusive. It might even mean adding apostrophes to Regents Professors Square and a Professors Lane.

"Apostrophes would be out of control!" said board member Margaret Carlson.

One-Day Baseball Career For Sale

ST. LOUIS - Wanted: Someone at least 18 years old itching to take a crack at playing in a professional baseball game. Glove, shoes and deep pockets required. Chewing tobacco not included.

Minor league baseball's River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League are auctioning off a one-day professional contract on eBay to benefit United Way. The auction, which began April 28, runs through Sunday night.

The highest bidder gets at least one trip to the batter's box and a guaranteed half inning in the outfield May 20 when the Rascals host the Gateway Grizzles. The winner also will receive 20 tickets to the game and a uniform. The jersey, No. 00, and hat are theirs to keep.

The player, however, is on the hook for his or her own glove, shoes, transportation, meals, any housing or possible groin pull.

Bidders of either gender are welcome, though neither should expect treatment with kid gloves from the opposing pitcher.

If you're a pitcher, "you don't want to take it easy on some schmo and give up a hit," said Allen Gossett, assistant general manager of the Rascals. "They'll bring the heat."

As of midday Wednesday, the only bid was $999.

Britney's Pregnancy Test Bought?

NEW YORK - Online casino Golden Palace has shelled out $5,001 dollars for what may be Britney Spears' home pregnancy test.

Then again, it may not be.

Golden Palace says it bought the test from a Canadian radio station. The station claims to have gotten the test from the trash outside Spears' Los Angeles hotel room months ago.

The station did not say anything about the test until Spears announced her pregnancy last month.

Golden Palace spokesman Drew Black says it's not certain it's really Spears' test. However, when casino officials saw it was up for grabs, he says they wanted it for their collection of oddities. The casino also owns a sandwich that resembles the Virgin Mary, and a haunted cane.

What about paying more than $5,000 for it? Black says, "It's hard to put a price on Britney Spears' urine."

Runaway Groom Returns Home

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. - A missing groom is back home in California, a month after he failed to show up at his wedding.

Kenneth Souza vanished April 3, the day he was supposed to get married in Redondo Beach.

A police spokesman says Souza just showed up at home, knocked on the front door and went in a took a shower.

Sergeant Phil Keenan says his department was forced to spend "a lot of resources" searching for someone who was "playing wolf."

Low-Alcohol Wine For Women Only

NAPA, Calif. - What do women want? How about a lower-alcohol wine? At least that's the thinking at Beringer Blass Wine Estates, a California winery. The vintner is out with a new white wine targeted at women. It's called White Lie Early Season chardonnay, and it has less than 10% alcohol, compared to the 13-14% percent found in some vintages. Tracey Mason of Beringer Blass says an all-female team developed the product. She says they wanted to produce a wine that women could enjoy without getting too fuzzy in the head. The new wine sells for less than $10 per dollar.

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