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Lost Cell Phones: 7 Strange Stories

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The story of Apple and the lost, found, sold, and possibly considered stolen iPhone has the internet abuzz. But there are quite a few even stranger stories of people finding missing cell phones.

1. In a Bar

An Apple engineer left an iPhone G4 prototype at a bar, where it was picked up by someone else who sold it to Gizmodo, which blogged about its features way before Apple intended. Now police are investigating and seized computers belonging to Gizmodo editor Jason Chen. Anyone who has ever lost a phone knows how unnerving it can be. Here are more stories of cell phones that wound up in strange places. You may say that the Apple prototype was the most valuable, but sports fans may argue that the next phone is priceless.

2. In a Thrift Store

Dave Checketts was president and general manager of the NBA's Utah Jazz from 1984 to 1990. He has also been president of the Madison Square Garden Corporation, president of the New York Knicks, and vice president for development at the NBA. Around ten years ago, he lost his Blackberry. Just last month, a man bought an old cell phone in a thrift store in Provo, Utah, for 50 cents. When he charged the phone up, he was surprised to find contact information for the biggest stars in basketball and sports broadcasting, and even hockey star Wayne Gretzky! There were also saved email messages to the mayor of Salt Lake City and the governor of Utah. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, did not call any of the stars listed in the phone, and planned to return it to Checketts.

3. In Food

Emma Schweiger of Janesville Township, Wisconsin, opened a bag of Clancy's Ripple Potato Chips and started eating. She wasn't looking at the bag when she reached in and felt something hard. It was a cell phone. The blue and silver Nokia phone contained a T-Mobile SIM card in it and grease stains on the outside. The chips were distributed by Aldi, who removed the rest of the lot from sales and said they would investigate. Schweiger was offered a replacement bag of chips, but passed, explaining that she'd lost her appetite for chips for the time being. She added that in the future, she would pour them out into a bowl before eating. Photo by Dan Lassiter.

4. Inside a Fish

Andrew Cheatle was playing with his dog at a beach in England when his phone slipped out of his pocket. He thought it was gone for good, but a week later, someone dialed his girlfriend from that phone number. Glen Kerley of Worthing, West Sussex, had caught a 25-pound cod and found the phone inside the fish! He retrieved the SIM card, inserted it into a dry phone, and found Cheatle's saved numbers. When Cheatle retrieved the phone and dried it out, it still worked—but not perfectly. He had the circuit board replaced and still uses the phone, which has since lost its fishy smell.

5. In a Cab

A phone found in a taxi cab sounds like an everyday story, but in at least one case it could help convict a murderer. Taxi driver Brian Douglas Horn was arrested in connection with the murder of 12-year-old Justin Bloxom in Bossier Parish, Louisiana. A cell phone found in his cab contained records of text messages that were entered as evidence that Horn lured Bloxom into the cab the night he was killed. This is not the first time a found cell phone was used as evidence in a murder case.

6. Inside a Dog

Nero is a Great Dane-Doberman crossbreed. The rather large dog from Pretoria, South Africa, snatched a cell phone from his owner's daughter's hand and swallowed it in the blink of an eye. Nero was immediately taken to the veterinary clinic, where he was X-rayed and then had surgery to remove the phone. The vets found stones in Nero's stomach along with the phone. Nero recovered, but the cell phone never worked again.

7. In a Body Cavity

Some may say the strangest place to find a cell phone is in someone's rectum, but this is actually pretty common. Even death row inmates have been caught hiding cell phones in their bodies. In one case, a prisoner had to have extensive surgery after the phone broke apart inside him. Then there's the story from Pakistan in which 37 prisoners were found with phones stashed in their bodies. Seven of those men required surgery to remove them.

My children are constantly misplacing their phones, which is one reason they are required to always have them charged and turned on. We just call them and follow the ringing! Curiously, they are always under something they should have already looked under.

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