The Odd Side – August 18, 2015

Couple Who Took Pet Snake for Swim in River Say It Vanished

DANVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A couple who took their nearly 5-foot boa constrictor for a swim in a Pennsylvania river say the pet slipped away and they’re concerned about its welfare.

The Bloomsburg Press Enterprise reported Thursday that Kolby and Zachary Latranyi had been swimming with the snake named Leyla last weekend in the Susquehanna River. The Latranyis say it was shedding, so the swim was designed to help it remove material from its scales.

They say Zachary Latranyi was on shore with the snake wrapped around his shoulders when he dozed off, never noticing that Leyla had slithered away.

They’ve been back to the riverside several times, but so far haven’t turned up the missing reptile.

Leyla is described as brown with rust-colored spots and “very friendly.”

Disgruntled Man Can’t Pay Parking Fine With Rolls of Pennies

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. (Reuters) — A Pennsylvania handyman who protested a $25 parking ticket by trying to pay it with 2,500 pennies was denied the satisfaction by town officials citing federal law.

But justice denied to Justin Greene may simply be justice delayed for others facing fines in Chambersburg, where officials learned the law had been repealed and on Thursday said they are now considering installing coin counting machines that accept pennies.

“Every penny I have is stretched to the limit,” said Greene, who showed up on Friday at Chambersburg finance department with 2,500 pennies, only to be told that pennies and nickels are not legal tender for transactions over 25 cents under federal law.

Greene, 35, said he got the ticket earlier that day when he returned to a house to pick up tools from an earlier job. He said he parked on the wrong side of the street, went inside for 10 minutes and was frustrated to see the parking ticket on his truck when he came out.

“It was about how belittled I felt because of being parked this way and being charged so much when it wasn’t inconveniencing anyone,” said Greene, whose wife is a stay-at-home mom to their three young children.

Chambersburg Borough Manager Jeffrey Stonehill said in a press release on Wednesday the federal law had been repealed, and the department would accept coin payments in the future.

Greene said he has since paid for the ticket with mostly paper money.

“I just want to prove a point. More people need to stand up for themselves,” he said. “They were enforcing a law that’s been vetoed for years. What other laws are there like that?”

Paraglider Prompts Sky Chase After Jail Flyover

CASTAIC, Calif. (AP) — A midair traffic stop? Almost, as a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s helicopter pursued a powered paraglider that had just flown past a jail, raising concern.

A member of the sheriff’s flight crew recorded on video the brief chase that took place when the man in the paraglider flew near Los Angeles County’s Pitchess Detention Center on Monday.

Jail deputies saw the fly-by and the helicopter began following him. He at first didn’t obey orders to stop, but landed a few minutes later near a paintball playing field.

“At first I thought they were … just trying to investigate the sport, but I figured when they cut in front of me twice, I’d better turn around and land,” Ron Nagin, the paraglider pilot, told station KABC.

A sheriff’s statement said Nagin was very apologetic and said he hadn’t heard them because of the loud motor at his back. He said the winds took him near the jail.

Authorities said they were still investigating, but the man had no contraband, was not spotted dropping anything and was not arrested or cited.

Police Say Dogs Seeking Cupcakes Caused Small Stove Fire

ALTOONA, Pa. (AP) — Police say dogs trying to get at a box of cupcakes left on top of a stove apparently started a small fire in a central Pennsylvania home.

The landlord tells police in Logan Township that he stopped by his tenants’ home to let out the dogs about 8 p.m. Sunday. That’s when the landlord saw a small stovetop fire and called firefighters.

Police say it appears the dogs were trying to get the cupcakes and not only knocked off the stove’s control knobs, they also turned on the stove, causing the fire.

The fire has been ruled accidental. Nobody was hurt.

Goats and Herbs: Germans Get Back to Basics in Deserted BulgarianVillage

ODRINTSI, Bulgaria (Reuters) A group of 22 people have settled in the crumbling village of Odrintsi in southeastern Bulgaria where they live without electricity, but with 230 goats.

They traveled in May to one of scores of villages in the Balkan country left empty as many Bulgarians migrate to richer parts of Europe. Before their arrival Odrintsi, in the Rhodope mountains near the Greek border, had a population of five.

The quiet appeals to Stefan Gumbrich. He is “trying to slow down my brain that was always racing,” he said.

The group originated in Germany when Juergen Hummes, 57, started healing people through counseling, meditation, herbs and minerals.

Having sold their possessions and pooled their money, he and some followers settled first in a former youth hostel in the Black Forest, but found life in Germany too stifling. They moved to Togo in Africa in 2007 and built a hospital, taught orphans and offered natural medicines to the local population.

But having given all they could to Africa, the group was ready to move on. Hummes decided on Odrintsi while meditating.

The group has acquired half a dozen ramshackle houses in the village.

“There is no electricity in the old houses and we plan to keep it that way,” said Nadine Mukherjee, a 37-year-old former nurse. “We just want to live a life that is as close to nature as possible.”

There are plans for guesthouses, a stable for the goats, a cheese-making facility and a place for meditating.

“I really don’t miss a nice house, or a hotel, or a good restaurant,” Gumbrich said. “Maybe a good glass of wine from time to time, but again I think here in Bulgaria I have the chance again to try that.”