Gold-Medal Granny Blows Away Competition

And you thought grandmas just pinched cheeks and baked cookies.

Wichita Falls, Texas, grandmother Mary McGregor , 57, has set three weightlifting records — and then shattered her own records five more times at the American Masters Weightlifting Championships on the national circuit, according to the Times Record News.

Holding up the gold medal she won on Nov. 5, McGregor told the paper, "I love it. It is quite a conversation topic. People say, 'What do you do?'"

In all, the gold medal granny has taken six medals home to show off to the grandkids, one for every time she's competed.

McGregor's first time was the state championship in Dallas, where she won the gold medal.

"That got me hooked," she told the Times Record News .

However, at 185 pounds at the time, she wasn't the biggest fan of her spandex weightlifter's outfit.

"I felt like I was walking out there naked," she told the paper, laughing.

While granny may be yucking it up, her trainer says she's got serious skills.

"Most people her age, it is almost painful to watch them lift," coach Glenn Pendlay told the Times Record News.

Pendlay says all those other old weightlifters don't have the right form for the sport — McGregor stands alone.

"She has good form. Her basic form is that of a world class weightlifter," he told the Times Record News. "She is the only one I know of her age in the country that has such good form. To me that is the neatest thing about Mary's lifting."

McGregor's sport is made up of two lifts: The "snatch," where the barbell is lifted all in one fluid motion with the arms locked, and the "clean and jerk," in which the weight is lifted in two moves from the floor to the shoulders and then up above the lifter's head.

— Thanks to Out There reader Rodolfo P.

I Say, Could I Have a Pinch of Salt With My Giraffe Meat?

BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — VIP guests at the grand opening for the night safari zoo in northern Thailand will not only get to see exotic animals — they'll also get to taste them.

The Chiang Mai Night Safari Zoo will open officially on New Year's Day, with the "Exotic Buffet" for the event including tiger, lion, elephant and giraffe, said project director Plodprasop Suraswadi.

"VIP guests who pay 4,500 baht ($110) for the buffet will have the privilege of tasting an exotic menu, ranging from dog meat from (Thailand's Sakhon Nakhon province) to lion meat from Africa," he said.

Critics have lambasted the idea, saying it will encourage wildlife trafficking in a country and region notorious for smuggling endangered species for unproven traditional medicinal benefits.

— Thanks to Out There reader Laura C. from Phoenix.

When Kinkajous Go Wild

PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) — An elderly Pontotoc County woman received 20 stitches after being attacked and repeatedly bitten by a kinkajou, a raccoon-like pet that had escaped from a home five miles away.

Sadie Hester, 82, said she heard her dogs barking and fighting with something on the front porch Friday night.

"I went out there Saturday morning about 8 to clean up the porch because they'd torn everything up," she said. "I thought whatever it was, was gone. I never saw him."

Hester said as she started sweeping, the kinkajou jumped on her and wrapped his tail around her arm.

"He kept biting my hands because I was trying to pry his teeth out of my hands," she said. "I just kept trying to get him off, and he tore up my left arm pretty bad."

Hester got 16 stitches in her left arm and four in her right hand. She also received several bites that did not require stitches.

Sheriff Leo Mask said Hester's son captured the animal, tied it up and took it to the hospital. It was taken to a veterinarian's office to be observed for rabies.

The son also was bitten but was not seriously injured.

Although it resembles a monkey and is often referred to as the "night monkey," the kinkajou is kin to the raccoon. Kinkajous usually weigh 4 to 8 pounds and range in color from cream to dark brown.

Celebutante Paris Hilton has a pet kinkajou called Baby Luv, which she's reportedly been asked to give up or move, as they are illegal in California.

The kinkajou is a tree dweller, a native of the tropical rainforest zone of Central and South America.

Despite rumors that other kinkajous are loose in the area, Mask said his department is aware only of the one.

Authorities are unsure if the animal's owner will face charges in the attack.

— Thanks to Out There reader Aimee H.

Just Driving 'Round in Satan's Car ...

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Ken Hasenmueller and his wife have been feeling a little uncomfortable in the family car.

The car itself — a 1996 cherry red Oldsmobile Cutlass — is fine. It's the license plate that's the problem. They were randomly assigned 666-KEN.

"Initially, I thought it was interesting," Ken Hasenmueller said of the pairing of his first name with the numeric symbol for the Antichrist. "But then I thought that people might think I was Satanist."

Hasenmueller said he was worried others would assume he requested the devilish plates. He plans to trade them in for new ones.

"I wouldn't want people thinking I was interested in that sort of thing," Hasenmueller said. "You don't want this sort of thing on your car."

"We are a very strong Christian family," added his wife, Jean.

— Thanks to Out There readers Beth M. and Aimee H.

Security Guard Sees Dead People

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Here's an out-of-this-world reason you can't be denied unemployment benefits in Des Moines: seeing ghosts on the job.

The issue ended up in court when security guard Wade Gallegos alerted his supervisor at Neighborhood Patrol in September that ghosts were haunting a neighborhood he was guarding.

The supervisor arrived at the scene and Gallegos showed him where the ghosts were still apparently standing. The supervisor claimed he saw nothing and fired Gallegos five hours later.

The company found no signs of drug use or alcohol.

When Gallegos applied for unemployment benefits, Neighborhood Patrol refused, arguing that he was guilty of misconduct.

This month, Judge G. Ken Renegar disagreed. While he acknowledged that "such beliefs do render the claimant unfit to act as a security guard," Renegar ruled that seeing ghosts is not the type of misconduct that can disqualify Gallegos from receiving benefits.

— Thanks to Out There reader Susan A.

Sneak Into Our Country, Please

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The high-top sneakers cost $215 at a San Diego boutique, but the designer is giving them away to migrants before they cross to this side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

These are no ordinary shoes.

A compass and flashlight dangle from one shoelace. The pocket in the tongue is for money or pain relievers. A rough map of the border region is printed on a removable insole.

They are red, white and green, the colors of the Mexican flag. On the back ankle, a drawing of Mexico's patron saint of migrants.

On this side of the border, the shoes sit in art collections or the closets of well-heeled sneaker connoisseurs. On the other side, in Tijuana, it's a utilitarian affair: Immigrants to be are happy to have the sturdy, lightweight shoes for the hike — or dash — into the United States.

Their designer is Judi Werthein, an Argentine artist who moved to New York in 1997 — legally, she notes.

On recent evening in Tijuana, after giving away 50 pairs at a migrant shelter, Werthein waved the insole and pointed to Interstate 8, the main road between San Diego and Phoenix.

"This blue line is where you want to go," Werthein, 38, said in Spanish.

"Good luck! You're all very courageous," she told the cheering crowd of about 50 men huddled in a recreation room after dinner.

"God bless you!" several cried back.

Werthein has concluded that shoes are a border crosser's most important garment.

"The main problem that people have when they're crossing is their feet," Werthein. "If people are going to cross anyway, at least this will make it safer."

Only 1,000 pairs of the "Brinco" sneakers (it means "Jump" in Spanish) have been made — in China, for $17 each. The shoes were introduced in August at inSite, an art exhibition in San Diego and Tijuana whose sponsors include nonprofit foundations and private collectors.

Benefactors put up $40,000 for the project; Werthein gets a $5,000 stipend, plus expenses.

— Thanks to Out There reader Laura C.

Compiled by's Andrew Hard.

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