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The Weird Week in Review

Tokyo's 'Oldest Man' Found Mummified

Sogen Kato had been on record as the oldest man in Tokyo, so it was only natural that city authorities wanted to wish him well on his 111th birthday. However, the family would not let anyone in to see the man. Suspicious welfare officials asked police to investigate. When the police gained access to Kato's bedroom, they found he was dead -and had been dead so long that the body was mummified! Relatives said Kato had voluntarily confined himself to his room 30 years ago and had became "a living buddha". However, the family received about $109,000 in pension payments for Kato in the six years since his wife died. The family is under investigation for fraud.

Missing Cat Turns Up 620 Miles from Home

A house cat named Timothy disappeared from his home in Brisbane, Australia nine months ago. The cat had a microchip implanted. This week, the RSPCA in Townsville, Queensland picked up three stray cats, only one of which had a microchip. It was Timothy! The two-year-old cat had mysteriously traveled more than a thousand kilometers from his home. He was clean and in good health, which may lead one to think that he caught a ride to Townsville instead of walking the distance, but after nine months, no one can say how he got so far from home.

New Home for Conjoined Twins

At 58, Ronnie and Donnie Galyon are the world's oldest conjoined twins. A couple of weeks ago, they moved into a new home that was custom-built for their needs, including extra-wide hallways and a custom-built bed to accommodate their physical structure. The Christian Youth Corps Inc. arranged for the home to be built, with Brentwood Builders donating their services. When the project was publicized, further donations came in to cover building materials and furnishings. Volunteers came to the Dayton, Ohio site to help out. The new house is attached to the home of their younger brother and his wife, who have been caring for the twins for years, but no longer have to drive four miles to see them.

Bear Breaks Into Car, Goes On Joy Ride

Police in Larkspur, Colorado investigated a complaint of a car with the horn blowing for 45 minutes in the middle of the night. They found the car, with a bear inside it. What's more, the bear had driven the car there! Ben Story had parked his car the night before and did not lock it. And there was a sandwich inside.

Ben's father, Ralph, said the bear hit the shifter and the car rolled backward about 125 feet, off the driveway, down an embankment and into some trees on Eagle Road near Tenderfoot Drive.

"So this bear opened the door on his own. Somehow the door closed behind him. He panicked and started thrashing around, hit the shifter and put the car, took it out of park," Ralph said. "It rolled back, down over the hill, and down into here, and stopped. The four way flashers were on. It's like he knew what was going on, and kept hitting the horn."

Police declined to open the car door, and finally freed the bear by tying a rope to the door handle so they could open it from further away. The bear wandered off, leaving the vehicle's interior shredded.

Bear Steals Teddy Bear

In other bear-acting-human news, a woman in Laconia, New Hampshire arrived home as a bear was helping himself to the family's belongings. The bear had eaten pears and grapes and drank from a fishbowl, spilling the fish. Mary Beth Parkinson said the bear also took a child's teddy bear from the house, which they later found in the backyard.

Parkinson said she thinks the garage door going up scared the bear out of her kitchen on Tuesday. She said the bear apparently took advantage of the open outside door. She said she arrived in time to save the fish.

"There was one fish left in here (and) one flipping on the counter," Parkinson said.

A bear had been spotted in the neighborhood a few days earlier as well. Parkinson says her two young sons are now careful to lock the doors before leaving or going to bed.

Ansel Adams Photos from Garage Sale Worth $200 Million

Rick Norsigian's hobby of bargain-hunting at rummage sales has paid off big time. Ten years ago, he bought a couple of boxes of glass photographic negatives for $45. Experts in photography, forensics, handwriting analysis, and other fields have examined the 65 negatives and believe them to be pictures taken by nature photographer Ansel Adams in the early part of his career before he became famous in the 1940s. The value? Possibly $200 million dollars! Norsigian would like to sell them eventually, but for now the plates are going on a tour of universities and museums.

Update: Some now think the negatives were taken by Earl Brooks.

Woman Fined for 'Defaming Husband's Manhood'

Vandana Gurjar filed for divorce from her husband Hemant Chhalotre in Madhya Pradesh, India. Her grounds for the action included Chhalotre's impotence. That was a mistake. He turned around and sued Gurjar for defamation, and she was ordered to pay him 200,000 rupees (£2,747)! He claimed that her revelation of his impotence ruined his reputation and his chances for remarriage. One supposes that a charge of cruelty or adultery might have been better for his ego, if not his reputation.

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Billions of Cockroaches Are Bred in China to Create a ‘Healing Potion’
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Insectophobes would probably agree that any place that breeds billions of cockroaches a year is akin to hell on Earth.

That place actually exists—in the Sichuan Province city of Xichang—but China's government says it's all for a good cause. The indoor farm is tasked with breeding 6 billion creepy-crawlies a year to meet the country's demand for a special "healing potion" whose main ingredient is ground-up roaches.

While there are other cockroach breeding facilities in China that serve the same purpose, the one in Xichang is the world's largest, with a building "the size of two sports fields," according to the South China Morning Post.

The facility is reportedly dark, humid, and fully sealed, with cockroaches given the freedom to roam and reproduce as they please. If, for any odd reason, someone should want to visit the facility, they'd have to swap out their day clothes for a sanitized suit to avoid bringing pollutants or pathogens into the environment, according to Guangming Daily,a government newspaper.

The newspaper article contains a strangely poetic description of the cockroach farm:

"There were very few human beings in the facility. Hold your breath and (you) only hear a rustling sound. Whenever flashlights swept, the cockroaches fled. Wherever the beam landed, there was a sound like wind blowing through leaves. It was just like standing in the depths of a bamboo forest in late autumn."

Less poetic, though, is the description of how the "miracle" potion is made. Once the bugs reach maturity, they are fed into machines and ground up into a cockroach paste. The potion claims to work wonders for stomach pain and gastric ailments, and according to its packaging, it has a "slightly sweet" taste and a "slightly fishy smell."

The provincial government claims that the potion has healed more than 40 million patients, and that the Xichang farm is selling its product to more than 4000 hospitals throughout China. While this may seem slightly off-putting, cockroaches have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

Some studies seem to support the potential nutritional benefit of cockroaches. The BBC reported on the discovery that cockroaches produce their own antibiotics, prompting scientists to question whether they could be used in drugs to help eliminate bacterial infections such as E. coli and MRSA.

In 2016, scientists in Bangalore, India, discovered that the guts of one particular species of cockroach contain milk protein crystals that appear to be nutritious, TIME reports. They said the milk crystal could potentially be used as a protein supplement for human consumption, as it packs more than three times the energy of dairy milk.

"I could see them in protein drinks," Subramanian Ramaswamy, a biochemist who led the study, told The Washington Post.

However, as research has been limited, it's unlikely that Americans will start to see cockroach smoothies at their local juice bar anytime soon.

[h/t South China Morning Post]

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Massive Tumbleweeds Invaded a California Town, Trapping Residents in Their Homes
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For Americans who don’t live out west, any mention of tumbleweeds tends to conjure up images of a lone bush blowing lazily across the desert. The reality is not so romantic, as Californians would tell you.

The town of Victorville, California—an 85-mile drive from Los Angeles—was overtaken by massive tumbleweeds earlier this week when wind speeds reached nearly 50 mph. The tumbleweeds blew across the Mojave Desert and into town, where they piled up on residents’ doorsteps. Some stacks towered as high as the second story, trapping residents in their homes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

City employees and firefighters were dispatched to tackle the thorny problem, which reportedly affected about 150 households. Pitchforks were used to remove the tumbleweeds, some of which were as large as 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide.

"The crazy thing about tumbleweeds is that they are extremely thorny, they connect together like LEGOs," Victorville spokeswoman Sue Jones told the Los Angeles Times. "You can't reach out and grab them and move them. You need special tools. They really hurt."

Due to the town’s proximity to the open desert, residents are used to dealing with the occasional tumbleweed invasion. Similar cases have been reported in Texas, New Mexico, and other states in the West and Southwest. In 1989, the South Dakota town of Mobridge had to use machinery to remove 30 tons of tumbleweeds, which had buried homes, according to Metro UK.

Several plant species are considered a tumbleweed. The plant only becomes a nuisance when it reaches maturity, at which time it dries out, breaks from its root, and gets carried off into the wind, spreading seeds as it goes. They’re not just unsightly, either. They can cause soil dryness, leading to erosion and sometimes even killing crops.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

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