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The Weird Week in Review

International Banana Club Museum to be Sold

Ken Bannister, founder of the International Banana Club Museum, is selling out. The price of the museum has dropped from $45,00 to only $15,000! Before you snap up that bargain, be aware that the museum includes only the banana artifacts but no real estate, as the museum has been housed in rented space. Now the exhibit center is pulling out of the rental agreement and Bannister doesn't want to put the museum's contents in storage. The Banana Museum is the world's largest collection devoted to any one fruit, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Bids can be submitted to eBay.

Germany's Unluckiest Olympian

Is it luck or a curse that causes German speed skater Daniela Anschutz-Thoms to finish in fourth place? Not once, not twice, but fifteen times in the Olympics, the World Championships, and the European Championships. At each competition, medals are awarded to the top three only. It happened again in Vancouver.

Right up until the last lap, Germany's unluckiest Olympian looked set to break the mold and grab silver in the women's 3000 metre speed skating race.

But eventually the 35-year-old fell short, losing out on third place by just three hundredths of a second.

No matter how hard poor old Daniela tries, she just can't escape fourth place.

Anschutz-Thoms will have one more chance at a medal, in the 5,000 meter race next week.

Shoe Thief Targeted Funerals

A 59-year-old man named Park was arrested in Seoul, South Korea for stealing hundreds of pairs of shoes. He would attend funerals and wait for mourners to remove their shoes before entering the building, as is customary. Then he would pick out a expensive pair, put them on, and leave his own cheaper shoes behind. When police raided the warehouse at Park's second-hand shoe business, they uncovered 1200 pairs of shoes that may have been stolen. Now the shoes are laid out on display, and victims have been asked to come and collect the shoes that were stolen from them.

Czech Doctors Left 12" Tool in Patient

66-year-old Zdenka Kopeckova underwent surgery in September at a clinic in Ivancice, Czech Republic. She complained of constant pain since the operation. Only in February did doctors realize her surgical team had left a foot-long medical tool that resembles a spatula inside her abdomen! Four clinic employees have been fired over the incident. Clinic supervisors have apologized and offered compensation to Kopeckova, who plans to sue.

Gordon Lightfoot's Status Upgraded to Not Dead

71-year-old Canadian musician Gordon Lightfoot was at his dentist's office when he heard the news that he had passed away. The report was broadcast on the Toronto radio station CP24 Thursday. Lightfoot called in a correction.

"I'm fine, everything is good. I don't know where it comes from. It seems like a bit of a hoax or something," the 71-year-old singer said. "I was quite surprised to hear [it] myself.

"I haven't had so much airplay on my music now for weeks."

The initial report is thought to have been a prank which turned into rumor which made its way to Canwest news websites.

Not Dead Enough for a Funeral

A funeral home in Cali, Colombia was preparing the body of a 45-year-old woman for embalming when she began to move and breathe. She had been declared dead the day before by hospital staff when monitors registered no heartbeat and no blood pressure. The unnamed woman was transferred back to the hospital, where she is in a coma.

Stranded Snowboarder Burned Money to Stay Warm

22-year-old Dominik Podolsky of Munich, Germany was trapped 33 feet above the ground on a ski lift in Austria when operators shut it down for the night. He didn't have his phone with him, and decided not to jump. Instead, he began burning his money to ward off hypothermia. A crew on the ground spotted the fire as Podolsky was burning his last 20-euro note, six hours after he boarded the ski lift. He was taken to the hospital, treated for hypothermia, and released that same night. Podolsky is considering legal action against the ski lift company, but a spokesman said that no one was supposed to use the ski lift to ride down the mountain.

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London's Sewer-Blocking 'Fatbergs' Are Going to Be Turned Into Biodiesel
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iStock

UK officials can't exactly transform the Whitechapel fatberg—a 143-ton trash mass lurking in London's sewer system—into treasure, but they can turn it into fuel. As The Guardian reports, Scottish biodiesel producer Argent Energy plans to convert parts of the noxious blockage into an environmentally friendly energy source.

For the uninitiated, fatbergs (which get their names from a portmanteau of "fat" and "icebergs") are giant, solid blobs of congealed fat, oil, grease, wet wipes, and sanitary products. They form in sewers when people dump cooking byproducts down drains, or in oceans when ships release waste products like palm oil. These sticky substances combine with floating litter to form what could be described as garbage heaps on steroids.

Fatbergs wash up on beaches, muck up city infrastructures, and are sometimes even removed with cranes from sewer pipes as a last resort. Few—if any—fatbergs, however, appear to be as potentially lethal as the one workers recently discovered under London's Whitechapel neighborhood. In a news release, private utility company Thames Water described the toxic mass as "one of the largest ever found, with the extreme rock-solid mass of wet wipes, nappies, fat and oil weighing the same as 11 double-decker buses."

Ick factor aside, the Whitechapel fatberg currently blocks a stretch of Victorian sewer more than twice the length of two fields from London's Wembley Stadium. Engineers with jet hoses are working seven days a week to break up the fatberg before sucking it out with tankers. But even with high-pressure streams, the job is still akin to "trying to break up concrete," says Matt Rimmer, Thames Water's head of waste networks.

The project is slated to end in October. But instead of simply disposing of the Whitechapel fatberg, officials want to make use of it. Argent Energy—which has in the past relied on sources like rancid mayonnaise and old soup stock—plans to process fatberg sludge into more than 2600 gallons of biodiesel, creating "enough environmentally friendly energy to power 350 double-decker Routemaster buses for a day," according to Thames Water.

"Even though they are our worst enemy, and we want them dead completely, bringing fatbergs back to life when we do find them in the form of biodiesel is a far better solution for everyone," said company official Alex Saunders.

In addition to powering buses, the Whitechapel fatberg may also become an unlikely cultural touchstone: The Museum of London is working with Thames Water to acquire a chunk of the fatberg, according to BBC News. The waste exhibit will represent just one of the many challenges facing cities, and remind visitors that they are ultimately responsible for the fatberg phenomenon.

"When it comes to preventing fatbergs, everyone has a role to play," Rimmer says. "Yes, a lot of the fat comes from food outlets, but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish."

[h/t The Guardian]

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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
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Restaurant Seeks Donations to Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center
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Kevin Burkett, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

If you’ve ever wondered where all those Big Mouth Billy Bass singing fish that flew off shelves in the early 2000s have gone, take a look inside a Flying Fish restaurant. Each location of the southern seafood chain is home to its own Big Mouth Billy Bass Adoption Center, and they’re always accepting new additions to the collection.

According to Atlas Obscura, the gimmick was the idea of Dallas-based restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He opened his flagship Flying Fish in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2002 when the Big Mouth Billy Bass craze was just starting to wind down. As people grew tired of hearing the first 30 seconds of “Don’t Worry Be Happy” for the thousandth time, he offered them a place to bring their wall ornaments once the novelty wore off. The Flying Fish promises to “house, shelter, love, and protect” each Billy Bass they adopt. On top of that, donors get a free basket of catfish in exchange for the contribution and get their name on the wall. The Little Rock location now displays hundreds of the retired fish.

Today there are nine Flying Fish restaurants in Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee, each with its own Adoption Center. There’s still space for new members of the family, so now may be the time to break out any Billy Basses that have been collecting dust in your attic since 2004.

And if you’re interested in stopping into Flying Fish for a bite to eat, don’t let the wall of rubber nostalgia scare you off: The batteries from all the fish have been removed, so you can enjoy your meal in peace.

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