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The Weird Week in Review

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Olympics Open, Maternity Wards Full, 16,000 Couples Wed

Today is an auspicious date for China, not only because of the Olympics, but also because the date is 8-8-8. The Chinese word for "eight" is a homophone for "wealth". All 200 beds in Beijing's main maternity ward are full as women have scheduled caesarean section births to ensure "Olympic babies". Other cities report scheduled births at five times the normal number today. In addition, an estimated 16,000 couples will tie the knot today.

Max Goes for Candy

Three-year- old Max McGrath of Longridge in Lancashire decided he wanted candy from the supermarket, despite the fact that everyone in his family was asleep and the store was a mile and a half away. So he unlocked the door and walked the entire way! James Brown, who was driving a delivery truck spotted him looking through the store window at 3AM. Max was able to show Brown where he lived, but the truck driver had to call police to wake the family up. Max's mother Amy McGrath says she now keeps the door key out of his reach.

The Shire in Foreclosure

Ron Meyers envisioned a community modeled after the world in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and began a development project in Bend, Oregon. Several years later, the project called The Shire is in foreclosure, a victim of the subprime mortgage crisis. Only one house was ever sold, to one of the community's designers. One other has been built and draws a lot of interest, but no buyers. The houses feature artificial thatched roofs, unique stonework, and other Middle Earth touches. Fourteen other developed lots will go on the auction block if they are not sold by December.

Mid-Air Wedding

160biplane.jpg24-year-old Darren McWalters married his bride Katie Hodgson while flying over the English countryside on top of separate biplanes! The minister, 67-year-old George Bringham conducted the rites while standing on a third biplane. They communicated by wireless, and the vows were transmitted to witnesses on the ground over a loudspeaker. See a video here.

Girl Falls 14 Stories, Saved by Soot

12-year-old Grace Bergere was playing on the roof and climbed to the top of the chimney at her Manhattan apartment building to get a better view of the city. She slipped from the top of the ladder and fell down the chimney, 14 stories down to the ground! She landed in the building's boiler room in a 3-foot pile of soot. Firefighters were stunned to find Grace not only alive, but conscious. She suffered a broken hip, but no internal injuries.

Redneck Stonehenge

150redneckstonehange.jpgA farmer in Hooper, Utah built a fence out of old cars! Neighbors in a new subdivision were complaining about farming activities and the smell, but the neighbor who adjoins his property wouldn't help pay for a fence, so he built one from the material he had.
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Creator Rhett Davis calls it his "Redneck Stonehenge." It's not that he doesn't like his neighbors, he's just not sure they understand him and his kind.
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What used to be farmland is now filling up with subdivisions. "The unique community coming in, I don't think they're used to the farm life," Davis said. "I think the residential is starting to overpower the farmer."

Child Left Behind at Airport

In a scene reminiscent of the movie Home Alone, a family with five children left one behind when they departed from Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. Her mother and father were sitting in different parts of the plane, and each thought the 4-year-old was with the other parent. The girl was found wandering in the airport's duty-free shopping area after her plane had left for Paris. The girl was escorted to her destination on another plane.

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This Just In
Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
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Lafontaine Inc.

Quebec City is famous today for its old-world European charm, but a construction crew recently discovered a living relic of the city’s military past: a potentially explosive cannonball, dating all the way back to the French and Indian War.

As Smithsonian reports, workers conducting a building excavation in Old Quebec—the city’s historic center—last week unearthed the 200-pound metal ball at the corner of Hamel and Couillard streets. They posed for pictures before contacting municipal authorities, and archaeologist Serge Rouleau was sent in to collect the goods.

Initially, nobody—including Rouleau—knew that the rusty military artifact still posed a threat to city residents. But after the archaeologist toted the cannonball home in a trailer, he noticed a rusty hole through the center of the shell. This made him fear that the projectile was still loaded with gunpowder.

Rouleau contacted the Canadian military, which deployed bomb disposal specialists to collect the cannonball. They moved it to a secure location, where it will reportedly be either neutralized or destroyed. If the cannonball itself can be saved as a historic relic, it might be displayed in a museum.

“With time, humidity got into its interior and reduced its potential for exploding, but there’s still a danger,” munitions technician Sylvain Trudel told the CBC. “Old munitions like this are hard to predict … You never know to what point the chemicals inside have degraded.”

Experts believe that the cannonball was fired at Quebec City from Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River, during the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. This battle occurred on September 13, 1759, during the French and Indian War, when invading British troops defeated French forces in a key battle just outside Quebec City. Ultimately, the clash helped lead to Quebec’s surrender.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Weird
Sponge-Like Debris Is Washing Up on France’s Beaches, and No One Knows What It Is
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iStock

The shores of northern France are normally a picturesque spot for a barefoot stroll. That was until mid-July of this year, when walking down the beach without stepping on a spongy, yellow blob became impossible. As Gizmodo reports, foam-like objects washed up by the tide have covered close to 20 miles of French coastline over the course of a few days.

Unlike the boulder-sized "fatbergs" sometimes found on the beaches of Britain or the snowballs that crowded Siberian beaches last November, the spongy invasion has no known source. Experts have ruled out both organic sponges found in the ocean and polyurethane foam made by people. Jonathan Hénicart, president of Sea-Mer, a French nonprofit that fights beach pollution, told La Voix du Nord, "When you touch it, it's a bit greasy. It's brittle but not easily crumbled. It has no specific odor […] We do not know if it's toxic [so] it should not be touched."

The northern coast of France borders the English Channel, a waterway that welcomes hundreds of commercial ships every day. Strange cargo is constantly falling overboard and washing up on shore. Since the sponges resemble nothing found in nature or an artificial material that's commonly known, it's possible they're a combination of both. They could be a type of foam, for instance, made out of seawater and air bound together with a substance like soap or fertilizer.

Experts won't be able to verify what the mess is made of until the Cedre Association, an organization that studies hydrocarbon pollution, analyzes samples collected from the beach. That process should take about a week. In the meantime, French officials are working to clear the coastline while assuring the public the phenomenon doesn't pose a threat to their health. Nonetheless, beachgoers in northern France should think twice before kicking off their flip-flops.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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