Oddities News Archive - January 03, 2009

In China, once called a kingdom of bicycles, cycling for fitness is making inroads after years of soaring car ownership, officials say. Bicycling for transportation was a hallmark of Chinese culture until the creation of an urban white-collar class in the 1990s led many to purchase automobiles instead.

A 16-year-old Basset hound named Beryl in Tenterden, England, has an unusual best friend, a 4-year-old Tawny owl named Wol, the animals' owner says. Sara Ross said she has been sharing her home with the two animals and witnessing how they have bonded despite their significant differences, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday. They are both rescue animals and they're like best buddies.

A perky 114-year-old Los Angeles woman is in line to be named the world's oldest woman, Guinness World Records says. Gertrude Baines was born to former slaves in Georgia in 1894 and lived much of her life in Ohio, working as a house mother at a state college before divorcing and moving to Los Angeles, where she now lives in a nursing home, CNN reported Saturday.

A Bavarian beaver is making itself at home in England's Devon county after escaping from an area farm, its owner says. Conservationist Derek Gow said the escaped 88-pound beaver apparently does not know it has moved across several international borders and is preparing for a typical German winter, The Times of London reported Saturday. It's laying up a store of feed because it doesn't know it isn't in Germany, Gow said of the animal, which was one of three that escaped four weeks ago from his farm.

A 40-year-old British mother-of-two says she was forced go home and get her passport after being told she was too young to buy alcohol at a store. Karen Hamilton of Hampshire county said during a recent beer run at a Tesco retail store, she was told she could not buy alcohol without proper documentation

Los Angeles resident John Estrada says he's abandoned illegal graffiti to teach younger artists how to put their street skills to better use. Estrada, 42, teaches a class called Skillz 'N Action at the Santana House, named after musician Carlos Santana, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Plans for a big celebration of 50 years of Alaska statehood scheduled for Saturday in Wasilla were postponed due to bone-chilling temperatures, organizers said. Plans call for the festival to go forward next Saturday, but only if the temperature rises to at least 10 degrees below zero.

Tony Parker hit a fadeaway jumper off a rebound at the final buzzer Saturday to hand the San Antonio Spurs a 108-106 win over Philadelphia. The Spurs had a 21-point first-quarter lead dwindle throughout the second and third quarters.

Word of the Day
  • A murmuring sound; a rushing or whistling sound, like that of the wind; a deep sigh.
  • A gentle breeze; a waft; a breath.
  • Any rumor that engages general attention.
  • A cant or whining mode of speaking, especially in preaching or praying; the chant or recitative characteristic of the old Presbyterians in Scotland.
  • To make a rushing, whistling, or sighing sound; emit a hollow murmur; murmur or sigh like the wind.
  • To breathe in or as in sleep.
  • To utter in a whining or monotonous tone.
According to the OED, from the 16th century, this word is 'almost exclusively Scots and northern dialect until adopted in general literary use in the 19th.'