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Shaun Dawson

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Weird on the Net

While traversing the "Net", I have often come upon stories that will never make headlines; even though the subject matter may be enticing to read. Stories that are a little offbeat and sometimes stretch the imagination. Stories that make you wonder if some people are just plain "different" than most of us. I am not talking about "Big Foot" sightings or "Space Aliens" landing. I am talking about stories that are somehow in their own right unique and unusual.

So I decided to present a few of these stories on a regular basis in a series I have dubbed "Weird on the Net". This is the first installment of this series. I hope you enjoy!!

The World's Tallest Man


The Guinness World Records says Leonid Stadnik is the world's tallest human. He lives in the village of Podoliantsy, Ukraine's northwestern Zhytomyr region, 212 kilometers (131.74 miles) west of the capital Kiev. The 37-year-old former veterinarian, who still lives with his 66-year-old mother, Halyna, and his 42-year-old sister Larysa, was officially measured at 8 feet 5 inches tall.

His growth spurt began at age 14 after a brain operation that apparently stimulated the overproduction of growth hormone. Doctors say he has been growing ever since.

While his size is intimidating, Stadnik charms visitors with a broad grin and childlike laugh. He seems at times like a lonely boy trapped in a giant's body, even keeping stuffed toys on his pillow.

Stadnik loves animals, but had to quit his job as a veterinarian at a cattle farm after suffering frostbite when he walked to work in his socks in winter. He could not afford custom made shoes for his 17-inch feet.

Since his recognition by Guinness, people from all over Ukraine and the world have sent him out-sized clothing, provided his home with running water and recently presented him with a giant bicycle and a new computer. And on Monday, he got a new car, courtesy of President Viktor Yushchenko.

"I have always dreamt that my life and the life of my loved ones ... would become more comfortable," Stadnik said. "My dream is coming true."


Grandma Drives with 3-year-old on Car Roof

I'm not sure what a 54-year-old grandma was thinking when she put her granddaughter, aged 3, on the top of her car and went for a spin around the parking lot of a Marathon grocery store in Florida. However the Monroe County Sheriff's Office deputies were not amused when they were summoned to the Publix store and saw for themselves the antics of grandma. She was arrested. 15 hours later she was released from jail.

The woman said she would never let anything hurt her granddaughter. She says she was driving at "snail-speed" and holding the child's leg. Authorities say the woman told police she was giving the child some air and letting her have fun. She faces charges of child abuse. The child is back with her mother.

Man Remains Standing at his own Wake


24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina met an untimely death. He was found dead underneath a bridge in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His brother Carlos told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper the victim had long said he wanted to be upright for his own wake: "He wanted to be happy, standing."

So his family granted him his last wish. Dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in his mother's living room. The owner of the Marin Funeral Home, Damaris Marin, told The Associated Press the mother asked him to fulfill her dead son's last wish. The funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake.

Gorilla Hangs on to Dead Baby


This is a particularly touching story. If anyone ever doubted that animals have feelings, here is the proof.

Gana is a mother gorilla who lives at the Allwetter zoo in the German city of Muenster. She is refusing to let go of her dead baby's body several days after it died of unknown causes. Zoo spokeswoman Ilona Zuehlke says the 3-month-old male baby died but its 11-year-old mother continues to carry its body around. Zuehlke says such behavior is not uncommon to gorillas. She says the mother "is mourning and must say goodbye." The baby can only be recovered from the enclosure once the mourning mother leaves the corpse behind.

Signs were posted near Gana's enclosure to explain the situation to visitors. The baby was named Claudio and was Gana's second baby. She had a female baby in 2007 that now lives at the Stuttgart Zoo.

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