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The Weird Week in Review

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Fire Station Blaze Embarrasses Firefighters

Firefighters in Waipahu, Hawaii responded to an traffic accident, but were called back to the station -because it was on fire! Fire Capt. Terry Seelig said the firefighters were "chagrined".

"The fire's cause was attributed to unattended cooking," Seelig said. "We, like everybody else, need to be careful and attentive when cooking."

The fire caused approximately $25,000 in damage to the Waipahu fire station, mostly from smoke and heat in the kitchen, Seelig said.

The fire station kitchen, which was scheduled for a remodel, has been repaired.

Cows with Fewer Burps

Methane produced from a cow's four stomachs contributes to the amount of greenhouse gasses released. Scientists in Canada are battling this trend by breeding environmentally-friendly cows that produce 25% less methane in their burps. The research is focusing on a gene that controls digestion in cattle. In addition, research shows that using a higher-quality feed which doesn't ferment as long in the stomachs and growing cattle to market size faster will further reduce greenhouse gasses.

Monkey Urinates on Zambian President

Zambian president Rupiah Banda was speaking to journalists at a news conference Wednesday at his home when one of the many monkeys who consider the presidential grounds home relieved himself on the president from a tree overhead.

Banda softly shouted: "You (monkey) have urinated on my jacket," and paused as he looked up to see the animal playing in a tree just above his chair.

"Perhaps these are blessings," he said continuing his address amid laughter from the audience of journalists and diplomats at the State House presidential offices.

Belgian Woman Regrets Tattooed Stars

150facetat3Kimberley Vlaminck came home with 56 stars tattooed on her face. The reaction she got from her family make her think twice after the fact, so she announced she was suing the tattoo artist. The 18-year-old Belgian woman said she had asked for only three small stars, but fell asleep during the procedure. Vlaminck blamed the tattoo on language differences with the Romanian tattoo artist, Rouslan Toumaniantz. Toumaniantz denied the accusations, but offered to pay for half the cost of laser tattoo removal. After worldwide scrutiny, the teenager admitted that she had asked for the full 56 stars and had not fallen asleep. Toumaniantz has since withdrawn his settlement offer, and says he will require written consent for all future tattoos.

Death by Computer

A tragic story from Romania should remind everyone not to mix electricity and bathing. A 17-year-old girl had her laptop in the bathtub at her home in Brasov. Flavia Maria Boricea had been bathing and surfing for quite some time, and plugged the computer into the wall outlet after the battery ran out. Her hands were wet, and she was electrocuted instantly. The only mark left was a burn on her hand.

Stoned Wallabies Make Crop Circles

115_wallabyWallabies have been observed helping themselves to legally-grown opium poppies on the island of Tasmania. Tasmanian attorney general Lara Giddings presented a security report and said wallabies were getting high on the poppies and wandering around in circles, leaving visible circles in the crops. An industry spokesman said that sheep in the poppy fields are more common, but they exhibit the same behavior -walking around in circles after ingesting the poppy seeds. Sheep are more likely to return to their paddocks and walk in circles.

Jeff Goldblum is Not Dead

Amidst the news of the deaths of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, a site that generates spoof stories produced an item that said actor Jeff Goldblum had fallen off a cliff and died in New Zealand while filming a movie. The story became an internet rumor which became breaking news for some Australian news outlets. Channel Nine went as far as broadcasting a video retrospective of Goldblum's work. For the record, Goldblum is alive and well.

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Workers in Quebec City Discover Potentially Live Cannonball Dating Back to the French and Indian War
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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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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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