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The Weird Week in Review

Purple Snow in Russia

On Tuesday, residents of the Stavropol Region in Southern Russia found their landscape covered with purple-tinged snow! Samples of the snow were taken that ranged from purple to dark brown. After analysis, experts concluded that the purple tinge was due to particles in the atmosphere that drifted up from Africa in a dust cyclone. This is not the first time the country has seen such an oddly-colored snow.

Black-market Enhancements Hospitalize Six Women

Six women in New Jersey were hospitalized for injuries they received during black market plastic surgery procedures to enhance their buttocks. The women wanted silicone injections, but the unlicensed practitioner did not use medical grade silicone. Instead, the women were injected with "a diluted version of nonmedical-grade silicone."

"The same stuff you use to put caulk around the bathtub," said Steven M. Marcus, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, who learned about the bizarre procedures through a committee he sits on that monitors outbreaks in the metropolitan area.

The six victims underwent surgery and treatment with antibiotics, and are recovering. It is not yet known whether all six cases are related.

Cement Mixer Buries Cars

A cement truck parked near a construction site in Warsaw, Poland unexpectedly exploded, which sent cement flying through the neighborhood. One woman was seriously injured by the explosion. Dozens of cars were covered in cement so badly they are considered a total loss. To add insult to injury, neither the builder's insurance nor the auto owners' insurance want to cover such an unusual accident. No word yet on what caused the cement mixer to explode.

Nun Inherits Brothel

A woman identified only as Linda K died in Austria with an estate, but only one heir -a child she relinquished for adoption in Scotland 55 years ago. The daughter was traced to a convent near Glasgow, Scotland where she is now a nun. The unnamed nun was informed of her inheritance, which included a large sum of money and a working brothel! The surprised sister sold the business and donated the money, as well as her cash inheritance, to a charity in India.

Toilet Art Exhibit to Become Real Toilet

British artist Robert Olley painted Westoe Netty, a picture of six men and a boy at a row of urinals. The iconic painting became famous in the 1970s. The original toilet built in 1890 and depicted in the painting was salvaged by Olley's friends in 1996 to avoid demolition. It was recently set up at Beamish museum in County Durham, England as an exhibit. However, museum patrons took the fixture for more than an exhibit, and used it accordingly. The exhibit was taken down -temporarily. It will be re-installed at the museum in an area that can be plumbed, so it will be both a cultural exhibit and a working urinal.

A Taste of Their Own Medicine

A van belonging to LBS Enforcement, a private company that enforces parking regulations, was out and about ready to put a wheel clamp on cars in violation in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, England. However, the Southend Council found that the vehicle's owners had not shown proof of taxes paid, so government officials clamped and towed the van! An anonymous resident took pictures of the incident.

"I don't think they were amused as one of them stuck a finger up.

"I took the pictures because it was so hilarious and I think a lot of people will be very pleased to see them get clamped for a change."

An employee of LBS Enforcement blamed the matter on a clerical mixup. I'm sure they've heard that story before themselves.

German Police Summoned Over Forgotten Vibrator

Police in Bochum, Germany responded to a call from a woman who was concerned over suspicious noises in her apartment. They found the strange sound to be coming from a dresser drawer. With the resident's permission, an officer opened the drawer, lifted the clothing inside, and found a "very personal, battery-operated object" that had somehow turned on. The woman's face turned a different color and the police left shortly. No doubt they were in a hurry to go outside and laugh.

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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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