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The Weird Week in Review

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Lost Man Drives 400 Miles to Get Newspaper

Eighty-one-year-old Eric Steward of Yass, New South Wales, Australia went out to get a morning paper on Wednesday. He took a wrong turn onto a highway and drove for nine hours before stopping to ask for directions! Steward ended up in Geelong, Victoria, 400 miles from home. A policeman called Steward's wife, and sent him in the right direction for home.

"I just went out on the road to have a drive, a nice peaceful drive," he told reporters, adding he did not need a satellite navigation device as he'd only been lost once.

The Hamster Hotel

The Hamster Hotel is now open in Nantes, France. No, it's not just a clever name. Frederic Tabary and Yann Falquerho converted a room in an old building to a human-sized hamster cage complete with a running wheel and hay to sleep on. Guests will live like a hamster, to the point of even having grain offered for meals. The price for the room is currently 99 euros for a night, but the price will go up when Wifi and a TV screen are installed.

Dad Spoke Only Klingon to Child for Three Years

Minnesota linguist d'Armond Speers has a doctorate in computational linguistics. He says he isn't much of a Star Trek fan. But he spent the first three years of his son's life speaking to him only in the Klingon language!

"I was interested in the question of whether my son, going through his first language acquisition process, would acquire it like any human language," Speers said. "He was definitely starting to learn it."

Speers helped develop a digital dictionary in Klingon for Mac, Windows, and iPhone for the software company Ultralingua. Speer's son is now 15 years old and doesn't speak a word of Klingon.

Trimming a Hedge with a Crane

120_craneTwo men in Cambridge, in the Waikato region of New Zealand have a different idea of how to trim an unruly hedge. They were spotted mowing the hedge with a riding lawnmower hoisted above the foliage by a crane! The two men, who wished to remain unnamed, joked that they might go into business with their unusual trimming method. After a scheduled hedge-trimming service didn't show up, they came up with the stunt in order to make a video and hoped it would be popular on the internet. The friends managed to get a crane and a lawnmower, but had no video camera. The mower operator broke a hand during the stunt in a fall from the crane. However, passers-found the sight quite entertaining.

North Pole Mail Program Dropped

The 2,100 citizens of North Pole, Alaska take Christmas very seriously. Since 1954, they've volunteered for Operation Santa, a program of the US Postal Service which answers letters to Santa Claus. The program has volunteers all over the country, and many letters are routed through Alaska to get the special North Pole postmark. However, the USPS is discontinuing the practice of sending letters to the town of North Pole. New security restrictions on letter-writer's identities are not feasible in the small Alaskan town. Children can still write letters to Santa Claus and get an answer, but they won't go to North Pole.

Lion Opens Car Door with Teeth

150lionopenLion Safari Park in Johannesburg, South Africa allows cars to drive through the lion enclosure so people can see the animals up close. A family in a white Toyota drove through with the doors closed, but apparently failed to lock at least one back door. A 300-pound lion deftly reached over and opened the back door with his teeth. The family remained still for several seconds, supposedly in shock, before driving off as quickly as possible. The lion chased the car to a gate, where a park attendant held it back by throwing stones. Richard Holden was in a car behind the Toyota took pictures of the incident.

Students Arrested for Not Paying Tip

College students Leslie Pope and John Wagner and four of their friends went to the Lehigh Pub in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The bill came to $73, which Pope and Wagner paid, but they refused to pay the mandatory $16.35 tip, because they said the service was lousy. So they were arrested.

The pub, which was very busy that night, took the $73, but then called the cops, who treated the matter as a theft.

The menu clearly states, "18 percent gratuity added to check of parties of 6 of more," and a similar message is printed on receipts, a pub employee said this morning.

The students will be in court over the matter next month.

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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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