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The Weird Week in Review

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Flaming Pet Rat Starts Fire

David Stanifer and his friends had tied a ribbon and some bells to a pet rat named Amelia Earhart at his home in Titusville, Florida. He didn't have scissors, so he used a lighter to cut the ribbon and release the rat, who began running around the garage. The flaming ribbon began several small fires that grew out of control. Over a dozen firefighters responded to the blazing home, which suffered $30,000 in damage. The rat was unharmed.

Practical Joke Leaves Men with Face Tattoos

A village chief in Indonesia passed along a message to two men that government intelligence jobs were waiting for them,  but they would first have to get their faces tattooed with dragons. He later checked with a government representative and found the message to be a hoax, but only after 30-year-old Nanang and 40-year-old Bambang had their faces permanently inked. The two men have filed a police report. It was the third such prank pulled in Indonesia recently.

Blood Alcohol Test For A Horse

Police in LeleÅŸti, Romania responded to a call about a horse and wagon accident that resulted in the death of an 86-year-old villager. The wagon ran into him while he was sitting in front of his home. Witnesses reported the accident was due to the horse acting abnormally, so a veterinarian was called to draw blood from the animal for a blood alcohol test! The results have not been reported.

Graffiti Wall Vandalized

150graffitiwall.jpgGovernment councils in the area of Wadebridge, Cornwall, England built a 6-foot tall, 30-foot long concrete wall for young artists to practice their graffiti skills. The project was due to open on October 31st, but an unknown local jumped the gun by scrawling a protest across the wall. The graffiti reads. "I paid my tax + all I got was this lousy wall!!" The irony of the situation is that most of the wall's cost was subsidized by businesses and organizations, but the investigation and repair will be paid for with government funds.

Paraglider Teaches Eagle to Fly

French falconer Jacque Olivia Travail spent a year and a half training an American Bald Eagle to fly. The final exam came last week when the two soared over Europe's highest mountain, Mont Blanc together, Travail paragliding as Shercane the eagle flew on his own for 40 minutes. The 14-year-old eagle never strayed far from Travail.

The falconer said it was hard work for Shercane because the air is so thin up there, "but he enjoyed and we both had a great time together."

Man Eats 15-Pound Hamburger

150burger.jpgOn Monday, 21-year-old Brad Sciullo became the first person ever to finish off the Beer Barrel Belly Bruiser offered by Denny's Beer Barrel Pub in Clearfield, Pennsylvania. The burger's meat weighs 15 pounds, and the total with bun and fixings weighs over 20 pounds! By finishing the burger in the 5-hour time limit, Sciullo won $400 and a t-shirt.

Rabbit Invasion Shuts Down Mandela Museum

The prison offshore from Cape Town, South Africa where Nelson Mandela spent 27 years is now the Robben Island museum. The popular tourist attraction will be temporarily closed in November due to an invasion of rabbits!

"The current population is so large that it threatens to permanently damage the island's sensitive vegetation, and poses a serious threat to other fauna species," Seelan Naidoo, the museum's acting chief executive said in a statement.

A combination of culling and sterilization will be used to bring the rabbit population down to a manageable level.

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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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