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The Weird Week in Review

Farmer Bites Cobra

Mohammed Salmodin was working in his rice paddy in his village in Nepal when a snake bit him. He returned home to get a light so he could determine what kind of snake it was, and found a cobra in his crop. Salmodin had once heard advice from a snake charmer that you should bite a cobra to death if he bites you, so that's what he did: he bit the snake repeatedly until it was dead. Salmodin then went about his work until family members convinced him to seek medical help. He was successfully treated for snakebite at a hospital. Officials say Salmodin won't face any charges for killing the snake, because a common cobra is not an endangered species.

Why the Tortoise Wouldn't Eat

Margaret Parker of Carlisle, England, found a five-inch-long tortoise in her garden. The miniature tortoise was cute, so she brought it inside and tried to feed it. Parker's daughter brought some lettuce for it, but it still wouldn't eat. So the women called Knoxwood Wildlife Rescue Centre for advice, and a volunteer was sent out. Pauline Adams picked up the tortoise and figured out the problem.

She said: “At first when I arrived I didn’t have my glasses on and I thought it was a baby tortoise. It was sitting there in the shoe box, on a bed of lettuce and tomato.

“Then I put my specs on, and thought: ‘Oops - what’s this?’

“When I picked it up I saw the CE mark and the words Made in China, and I just cracked up.

“I laughed even more when she told me her daughter had been to the Co-op to buy tomato and lettuce for it. She was very apologetic. Judging by the moss on it, it had been in the garden a long time.

Adams and Knoxwood founder George Scott both said Mrs. Parker did the right thing by calling them.

Surgeon Commandeers Child's Bike to Get to Work

Dr. Catherine Baucom was on her way to work Wednesday morning at the Elliot Mastology Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where a patient was waiting for her to perform surgery. But an accident on I-10 created a huge traffic jam in which hundreds of cars were stopped. That's when Baucom took matters into her own hands, creating a scene right out of a Hollywood movie. She called a colleague who lived near where her car was trapped, and borrowed his seven-year-old daughter's pink princess bicycle. Baucom rode the bike back to the interstate and was confronted by police. After hearing her story, the cops gave Baucom an escort as she drove the little bike to the clinic. That's dedication.

Amateur Art Restoration Goes All Wrong

A fresco of Christ by artist Elias Garcia Martinez was painted over a hundred years ago in the Sanctuary of Mercy Church near Zaragoza, Spain. A recent donation from the artist's granddaughter was intended for the painting's restoration. However, cultural officials found that an elderly parishioner had already done her own restoration! The woman, who is in her 80s, did an "alarming and unauthorized" touch-up of the original work that completely covered Martinez's painting, although she claims the priest gave his permission. The woman had eventually realized she was having trouble with the job, and contacted the cultural ministry for guidance -but it may be too late to save any of Martinez's work. If the painting cannot be recovered, a photograph of the original may be mounted over what now adorns the wall. Which you must see to believe.

Shoplifter Betrayed by Hot Peppers

Marcus Banwell learned the hard way that if you steal hot peppers, you should wait until you are away from the store before you eat them. Banwell had apparently ingested at least one Scotch Bonnet pepper from the Singh Store in Bristol, England. The store owner heard a commotion as Banwell doubled over and became sick from the fiery food.

Prosecutor May Li said when officers searched Banwell they found another four chilli peppers in his pocket, a stolen milkshake and fruit juice, and a clarinet stashed in his waistband, which was missing from a music shop.

The heat of a chilli pepper is measured using the Scoville scale.

The Scotch Bonnet, also known as Boabs Bonnet or Caribbean red pepper, is named for its resemblance to a Tam O'Shanter hat. Most Scotch Bonnets have a heat rating of 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville units. This compares to the rating of most jalapeño peppers, which is 2,500 to 8,000.

A small amount of drugs was also found. Banwell was sentenced to 14 weeks incarceration.

That's Not How a Breathalyzer is Done

Ryan Scott Thompson of Christchurch was arrested in Woodend, New Zealand after he crashed his car into an elderly woman's home. It was determined by a breath-alcohol test that the 26-year-old was intoxicated at three times the legal limit for driving. When he was taken to the police station and told to wait while the paperwork on his case was completed, Thompson heard the sound of running water, and immediately had to urinate. He peed onto a supply of breath screening tubes, and continued when ordered to stop. The 301 contaminated tests were discarded. He eventually pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay $1500 reparation to the homeowner and $109 for the damaged tests, in addition to a court fine.

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Food
Thanks to a Wet Winter, New Zealand Faces a Potential Potato Chip Shortage
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New Zealand has plenty of unique and tasty snacks, but kiwis also love potato chips. The universal comfort food is in danger Down Under, however, as an unusually wet winter has devastated the island country’s tuber crops, according to BBC News.

Twenty percent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop was wiped out from a series of major storms and floods that ravaged the nation’s North and South Islands, The Guardian reports. In some regions, up to 30 percent of potato crops were affected, with the varieties used to make chips bearing the brunt of the damage.

Potato prices spiked as farmers struggled, but the crisis—now dubbed “chipocalypse” by media outlets—didn't really make the mainstream news until supermarket chain Pak’nSave posted announcements in potato chip aisles that warned customers of a salty snack shortage until the New Year.

Pak’nSave has since rescinded this explanation, claiming instead that they made an ordering error. However, other supermarket chains say they’re working directly with potato chip suppliers to avoid any potential shortfalls, and are aware that supplies might be limited for the foreseeable future.

New Zealand’s potato farming crisis extends far beyond the snack bars at rugby matches and vending machines. Last year’s potato crops either rotted or remained un-harvested, and the ground is still too wet to plant new ones. This hurts New Zealand’s economy: The nation is the world’s ninth-largest exporter of potatoes.

Plus, potatoes “are a food staple, and this is becoming a food security issue as the effects of climate change take their toll on our potato crop,” says Chris Claridge, the chief executive of industry group Potatoes New Zealand, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, New Zealanders are preparing to hunker down for a few long months of potential potato peril—and according to some social media users, kale chips are not a suitable alternative. “Chipocalypse” indeed.

[h/t BBC News]

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Supermarket Employees to Compete in National Bagging Competition
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In today’s busy world, efficiency is king—especially at grocery stores, where long checkout lines can turn even the most patient shopper into a petulant purchaser. It only makes sense, then, that a nationwide competition exists among supermarket employees to determine the country’s best bagger.

As the Associated Press reports, Alysha Orrok, a teacher from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently won her state’s Best Bagger competition. She’s now headed to the U.S. finals, which will take place in Las Vegas in February 2018 and is sponsored by the National Grocers Association (NGA).

In Las Vegas, finalists from more than a dozen states—ranging from Washington to Florida—will duke it out onstage to see who’s truly king or queen of the checkout line. Competitors will be judged on weight distribution, appearance, speed, and technique (no smushed bread or bruised fruits allowed).

Orrok, who works evenings and weekends at a local grocery store, says she was initially clumsy on the job. “My first day as a bagger I dropped a soda and it exploded everywhere,” she told NBC Boston.

Over time, though, Orrok got so good at her side gig that she decided to compete in the New Hampshire state bagging competition earlier this month. At the tournament, "I was like 10 seconds faster than the next person," Orrok said. "I feel like I get in the zone and I just fly."

Competitors heading to 2018’s Best Bagger competition will face off to see who can achieve the best customer service in the shortest time span. The grand prize is $10,000, which will be awarded to a deserving grocery store employee “with infectious company pride and an enthusiastic commitment to customer service,” according to the NGA.

[h/t NBC Boston]

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