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The Weird Week in Review

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Fake Cop Pulls Over Real Cop

21-year-old Antonio Fernandez Martinez of Oakland was impersonating a police officer when he tried to pull over a car driven by Jim Beere, who is an actual police officer in plainclothes working undercover. Fernandez was driving a car with flashing lights and loudspeakers. Martinez was promptly arrested. If convicted, Martinez faces more than a sentence for impersonating an officer -he will also have his probation revoked on an earlier charge of car theft.

Misspelled Highway Sign

A sign on Highway 51 in Wisconsin points to exit 185. There are four words on the sign, and three are misspelled. "Exit" was correctly spelled. The state Department of Transportation blamed a subcontractor, Decker Supply Company. The sign read "Buisness 51 Rothschield Schofeild." By Sunday morning, the sign had been replaced.

World's Oldest Potted Plant

It took three months of planning, a crane, and nine gardeners to transfer a palm tree called a cycad to a new pot. The operation at Kew Gardens in London was difficult and delicate because the tree is considered to be the oldest potted plant in the world. It was collected around 1770 during the Captain Cook's second voyage around the world, which would make it at least 235 years old. It has been growing in a pot at Kew Gardens in London for 160 years. The repotting procedure was successful.

Gnome Rescue Operation

150gnomesAn elderly resident of Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia died and left behind around 1500 cement garden gnomes. Not knowing what to do with them, the executor of the will contacted the Australian Gnome Convention for advice on disposing of them. A four-member team traveled 800 kilometers to pack up the gnomes of all sizes.They will be painted and refurbished, and will appear at the 2010 Australian Gnome Convention on January 26th.

Cheese Sculpture Melts

Artist Sarah Kaufmann created a life-size sculpture of astronaut Neil Armstrong made out of Wisconsin cheddar cheese. It was to go on display this week at the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio. Unfortunately, the air conditioners at the museum are turned off every night to save energy, and the statue started melting and slid off of its base. Visitors were disappointed to see the statue was not on display, or at least most of it wasn't.

The Only Zebra in Gaza

150gazazebraAfter two years of economic blockade, the zoos in Gaza are suffering. Only one has a zebra, but there's something about the zebra that seems, um, un-zebralike.
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"It's really a painted donkey," admitted Mahmud Berghat, the director of Marah, when asked about the creature. Making a fake zebra isn't easy—henna didn't work and wood paint was deemed inhumane, so they finally settled on human hair dye. "We cut its hair short and then painted the stripes," Berghat explained behind the closed door of his office.

Most zoo animals have to be smuggled in through tunnels, but a zebra was too expensive for the Marah zoo.

Doctorate on Ice

Diana Entwistle, a former champion ice dancer, is the first person in Britain to achieve a PhD in figure skating.

The ex-British Masters ice dance champ said: "There is so much science in figure skating and it's the difference between getting a gold medal and appearing lower down in the leadership table."

Diana, who is in her 20s and from Roxwell in Essex, still competes but now plans to become a coach.

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8 Bizarre Places People Have Gotten Stuck
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Some days it just doesn’t pay to venture outside, particularly when you wind up the subject of a police and fire department rescue because you’ve somehow trapped yourself inside an ATM machine. Check out eight other strange environments that have ensnared bystanders and prompted emergency responses.

1. A CLAW MACHINE

A giant see-through container full of plush toys is any child’s idea of paradise, and they will attempt any means possible to inhabit it. For three-year-old Jamie Bracken-Murphy of Nenagh, Tipperary, Ireland, that meant crawling through the small flap from which the toys can be retrieved and finding himself lodged in a claw machine. Murphy was on display for about 10 minutes before an off-duty fireman was able to coax him back out the way he came in. Jamie’s father, Damien, expressed little surprise at his son’s predicament, saying that, "He's a very mischievous, sharp kid who's always pushing boundaries."

2. A TRAFFIC CONE

A man has a traffic cone over his head
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In 2013, a man in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, England thought he’d have a bit of fun by sticking a traffic cone—otherwise known as a bollard—on his head. To his dismay, the large cone slid down over and past his shoulders, entombing him in plastic. John Waterman, a witness to the incident, captured it all on his cell phone. "It was very random," Waterman told The Telegraph. "It's not the usual thing you see in the middle of Hemel Hempstead on a Sunday lunchtime." The man stumbled around for more than two hours before anyone bothered to call police.

3. A CEMENT HOPPER

Aurora, Illinois was the site of a recent cement mix-up, when an unidentified man became trapped in a cement hopper. The worker had climbed into the machine to clean it, but found he was unable to move when residual cement on the machine's floor began hardening around his legs. It took firefighters more than two hours to extricate him from the hopper. He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for minor injuries, but released the same day, according to the local fire department.

4. A TOILET

A stock shot of a person stuck in a toilet
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In 2016, a Norwegian man named Cato Berntsen Larsen found himself in deep trouble after he tried lowering himself into a public toilet to retrieve a friend’s cell phone. The toilet’s tank was located underneath the seat, allowing enough room for Larsen to become trapped. To his dismay, the tank—which is not connected to a sewage system and is only emptied sporadically—was full of human waste. Adding to the putrid nature of his enclave, Larsen vomited and was bitten by an unknown animal: His situation did not improve until authorities were able to come and pull him out. "It was damn disgusting," Larsen said, "the worst I have experienced. There were animals down there, too."

5. A GIANT STONE VAGINA

Tourists and residents of Tübingen, Germany are quite familiar with Chacán-Pi, a giant stone sculpture of a vagina created by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara. The towering display sits just outside Tübingen University’s Institute for Microbiology and Virology and has attracted curious onlookers since 2001. In 2014, an unnamed American student decided to go spelunking in the 32-ton carving for a photo opportunity and became trapped, necessitating rescue by 22 firefighters. The Guardian called them “midwives” and reported that the student was “delivered by hand.”

6. A WASHING MACHINE

A man appears to be stuck inside a washing machine
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Sometimes, games of hide-and-seek can go very wrong. That was the case for a man near Melbourne, Australia in 2014, who climbed into his top-loading washing machine fully nude to surprise his partner. Unfortunately, he was unable to climb back out. Responders were able to grease him with a liberal application of olive oil and pull him out. First Constable Luke Ingram told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that, as a rule, “My advice would be for people not to climb into appliances.” The warning went unheeded by another Australian man in 2015, who found himself lodged in a front-loading machine and had to wait while rescuers disassembled the entire unit in order to free him.

7. A BABY SWING

If you’re ever challenged by your adult friends to fit into a baby swing at a public park, you can confidently say that it won’t work. That’s because a man from Vallejo, California tried it in 2011. While he managed to slide into the seat using liquid laundry detergent, he couldn’t slide back out. As his legs began to swell, his friends abandoned him overnight. He wasn’t rescued until nine hours later, when a groundskeeper heard his screams for help at 6 o'clock the following morning. "The man sustained non-life threatening injuries to his body," the San Francisco Chronicle reported, "but there’s no word yet on the condition of his ego."

8. A CHIMNEY

A chimney sits on a rooftop
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There are many Santa jokes to be made, but when you’re the man trapped in your own home’s chimney for four hours, there probably isn’t a huge urge to start laughing. In late 2016, a Tucson, Arizona homeowner who had locked his keys in his home opted to retrieve them by re-entering his abode via the chimney. While it was a spectacularly bad idea, he actually almost made it: His feet were touching the floor of his fireplace before the space grew too narrow to allow for any further passage and he got stuck. Firefighters were able to pull him out from the roof, covered in soot but otherwise unharmed.

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Animals
This Octopus Species in Northern Australia Can Hunt on Dry Land
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Most octopuses live in the ocean—but in northern Australia, a small, shallow-water species takes to land in search of food. Abdopus aculeatus is the only octopus that’s specially adapted to walk on dry ground. Using its long, sucker-lined arms, the slimy sea creature pulls itself along the shoreline as it searches tide pools for crabs.

Witness Abdopus aculeatus in action by watching BBC Earth’s video below.

[h/t BBC Earth]

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