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The Weird Week in Review

Ticket Paid with 137 Origami Pigs

An unnamed driver was issued a ticket for running a red light after being caught by a camera in Jersey Village, Texas. He paid his fine, all right, but in one dollar bills, each folded into an origami pig, then arranged in two doughnut boxes. He then uploaded a video of the exchange to YouTube and more pictures of the pigs at imgur. Officials were amused at the stunt, but then asked him to unfold the dollars.

Plastic Flamingos Held for Ransom

Arthur O'Neil of Mansfield, Massachusetts has been decorating his lawn with plastic pinks flamingos for years, even dressing them up for holidays, which entertained the neighbors. But for the past few months, the flamingos have been disappearing one by one. Then one of the flamingos reappeared with a ransom note written on it:

"We have the flamingos....
If you ever want to see Arturo and his friends again, call [this number]."

The fact that the perpetrator knows the name of a plastic flamingo would make one believe the thief is someone O'Neil knows. O'Neil turned the evidence over to police. No arrests have yet been made.

Bartender Recognized Stolen Credit Card as His Own

David Weber of Miami Beach, Florida is accused of breaking into a car Monday night and stealing a credit card. He then went into a bar and ordered a beer. Weber attempted to pay his tab with the credit card, but the bartender noticed his own name on the card. He had bar security call police, who arrested Weber on credit card fraud and theft charges. Weber claimed he found the card on the ground.

Police Called Over Singing Schoolchildren

Students from Coconut Palm Elementary in Miramar, Florida, went to their local Walmart store to sing "God Bless America" flashmob-style on Tuesday to commemorate the events of 9/11. The school had received permission from a Walmart manager for the performance. However, that manager was not at the store when the students arrived, and the choir was turned away. The group then decided to sing outside next to the flagpole. Store management called the local police to come and disperse the crowd of children and parents, who were in the process of leaving by the time officers arrived. Walmart has since apologized, but did not explain the miscommunication.

8-Year-Old Runs Away from Home in Family Car

An unnamed 8-year-old boy on a farm in Australia was upset that his mother wouldn't let him have a pet duck. The angry child jumped in the family's vehicle, which has a manual transmission, and took off. His mother called police, and then drove another vehicle to chase her son at speeds of up to 100 kph. The boy's vehicle only stopped when he blew two tires. By the time police arrived, the mother and son were together. The boy was warned, but won't be charged because of his age. No word yet on the duck.

Fermented Fish Mistaken for Gas Leak

Apartment residents in Stockholm, Sweden were alarmed by an unfamiliar and unpleasant smell and called emergency services to report a gas leak. Two fire trucks, two police vehicles, and an emergency gas leak team rushed to the building, where several neighbors were concerned about the smell. An investigation revealed the smell was coming from a can of Surströmming, which is fermented fish. Surströmming is a Swedish delicacy that smells particularly nasty, and was being served at a party in the building. Police said that particular mistake has been made before.

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Billions of Cockroaches Are Bred in China to Create a ‘Healing Potion’
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Insectophobes would probably agree that any place that breeds billions of cockroaches a year is akin to hell on Earth.

That place actually exists—in the Sichuan Province city of Xichang—but China's government says it's all for a good cause. The indoor farm is tasked with breeding 6 billion creepy-crawlies a year to meet the country's demand for a special "healing potion" whose main ingredient is ground-up roaches.

While there are other cockroach breeding facilities in China that serve the same purpose, the one in Xichang is the world's largest, with a building "the size of two sports fields," according to the South China Morning Post.

The facility is reportedly dark, humid, and fully sealed, with cockroaches given the freedom to roam and reproduce as they please. If, for any odd reason, someone should want to visit the facility, they'd have to swap out their day clothes for a sanitized suit to avoid bringing pollutants or pathogens into the environment, according to Guangming Daily,a government newspaper.

The newspaper article contains a strangely poetic description of the cockroach farm:

"There were very few human beings in the facility. Hold your breath and (you) only hear a rustling sound. Whenever flashlights swept, the cockroaches fled. Wherever the beam landed, there was a sound like wind blowing through leaves. It was just like standing in the depths of a bamboo forest in late autumn."

Less poetic, though, is the description of how the "miracle" potion is made. Once the bugs reach maturity, they are fed into machines and ground up into a cockroach paste. The potion claims to work wonders for stomach pain and gastric ailments, and according to its packaging, it has a "slightly sweet" taste and a "slightly fishy smell."

The provincial government claims that the potion has healed more than 40 million patients, and that the Xichang farm is selling its product to more than 4000 hospitals throughout China. While this may seem slightly off-putting, cockroaches have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Some studies seem to support the potential nutritional benefit of cockroaches. The BBC reported on the discovery that cockroaches produce their own antibiotics, prompting scientists to question whether they could be used in drugs to help eliminate bacterial infections such as E. coli and MRSA.

In 2016, scientists in Bangalore, India, discovered that the guts of one particular species of cockroach contain milk protein crystals that appear to be nutritious, TIME reports. They said the milk crystal could potentially be used as a protein supplement for human consumption, as it packs more than three times the energy of dairy milk.

"I could see them in protein drinks," Subramanian Ramaswamy, a biochemist who led the study, told The Washington Post.

However, as research has been limited, it's unlikely that Americans will start to see cockroach smoothies at their local juice bar anytime soon.

[h/t South China Morning Post]

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Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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