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News of the Weird 

Air head: Louis Paul Kadlecek, 21, who had never even been in an airplane before, broke into a hangar at an airport near Lake Jackson, Texas, on Feb. 29, and, using trial-and-error, got a Cessna 172 airborne for about a mile, intending to fly to Mexico, before slamming into power lines. Although the crash left the plane a total loss, Kadlecek climbed out and walked home. Sheriff's deputies, based on witnesses' descriptions, arrested him the next day. One Brazoria County aviation official estimated that stunt pilots might survive an incident like that one time in 1,000. Said another, "This guy used up all the luck he's ever going to have."

People different from us: From a March Boston Globe interview with Morgan Lee, newly crowned Miss Gothic Massachusetts: (asked how she would describe goth) "It's really a style and a way of thinking. Basically, you're miserable all the time. [We] just see the darker side that other people tend to ignore. The most interesting people are always the saddest." (Asked what her boyfriend thinks of her): "He's very proud of me. [He's] not a very descript person, kind of like an amoeba, but very cultured."In a 2003 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology, two Seattle radiologists described a 35-year-old man with severe abdominal pain but normal vital signs. He was found to have "multiple" heads from Barbie dolls lodged in his small bowel, which he attributed to his pursuit of the pleasurable anal sensation he gets from excreting them. After a straight-laced description of how doll heads show up differently from other objects on X-rays, the authors advised radiologists to "keep in mind that human imagination may not follow clinical algorithms."

Our litigious society: British postal worker Alan Pugh filed a lawsuit in Birmingham County Court (England) in December against a Wolverhampton University religious studies teacher who he said had put too much outgoing mail in a letter box, causing Pugh to injure himself trying to haul it away. The lecturer had mailed 270 oversized envelopes, totaling about 50 pounds.According to New York State Police, Stephen Pappadake, 17, was speeding (80 mph in a 30 mph zone) and passing multiple cars illegally on the morning of April 29, 2003, and he eventually lost control of his car, crashed and died. In January 2004, Pappadake's parents filed a lawsuit against the last driver Stephen was illegally passing, who they said had veered to the left, causing Stephen to leave the road and crash. The lawsuit made no reference to the police's conclusions.

On the morning of July 7, 2001, a vandal tossed detergent into the fountain in Canal Park in Duluth, Minn., producing a massive, continuing mountain of bubbles. About four hours later, Kathy J. Kelly, walking by the still-foamy mound, failed to steer clear enough, fell on the soap-slippery sidewalk and suffered several injuries, including, eventually, gangrene. She sued the city for not having cleaned the fountain or roped off the area. In March 2004, a jury ruled in her favor, finding that 30 percent of the fault was hers for getting too close but that 70 percent was the city's. (Jurors were not allowed to assess the fault of the original vandal.)

Least competent criminals: Sandy L. Warren, 43, was arrested in March and charged with stealing an 8-ton cherry-picker from a construction equipment dealership in Redmond, Wash. A dealership employee had spotted the cherry-picker parked in Warren's front yard in Redmond with a for-sale sign on it ("$28,990 OBO"). And Ronald Plaster, 21, and Amber Plaster, 20, were arrested in Meadville, Pa., in February after an investigation of sexual assault against two teenagers. The investigation was started when Amber walked into a police station and asked, out of curiosity, whether it was legal for a 21-year-old man to have sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Undignified deaths: An 18-year-old man drowned near Eudora, Ark., in December, when he accidentally fell into a pit of water while attempting to drown his pit bull (which he thought was too old and docile). The man's father also drowned when he jumped in to save his son. (The dog survived.)

2004 CHUCK SHEPHERD

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