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The Weird Week in Review

Synchronized Birthdates

Chad and Barbie Soper of Rockford, Michigan have three children. Their latest is baby girl named Cearra who was born on October 10th, giving her a birthdate of 10/10/10. But get this: their older daughter Chloe was born August 8, 2008, so her birthdate is 8/8/08. And their son, Cameron, was born on September 9, 2009 -which means his birthdate is 9/9/09! The dates were not exactly random, as Chloe and Cearra were born after induced labor due to their mother's health problems. The Sopers do not plan to have a fourth child in 2011.

Armed Robbers Lose Hostages at Waffle House

Two masked men entered a Waffle House at in Springfield Township, Ohio and demanded money. An employee slipped out the back door and contacted police. One of the armed robbers herded the other 17 people who were dining or working during the overnight shift into a back room. Then, he returned to the front of the restaurant and a door closed behind him -which automatically locked behind him! The hostages all ran out the back door and were greeted by police officers. The two men dropped their weapons and tried to flee, but were stopped by police. A search of the area uncovered two other men hiding in a Jeep with masks, gloves, and weapons. Police believe alcohol was involved.

Firemen Rescue Kitten from Sewer

Three-year-old Alannah Merleto of Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, Australia flushes a lot of things down the toilet, as some children do, but her two-day-old kitten was the worst thing she could flush. Eight members of the NSW Fire Brigade came with rescue equipment to see what they could do. The firemen found the kitten by putting a camera down the pipe, and pushed the kitten to an access valve. The rescue took five hours. The kitten was reunited with his mother Pusska and renamed Cain after the firefighter who pulled him from the drain.

A Job Nobody Wants

Twenty-year-old Marisol Valles is a mother and a college student. She is also the new police chief in Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, a town near the Chihuahua/Texas border where drug traffickers terrorize citizens with impunity. There were few applicants for the job, which is considered a virtual death sentence by many in Mexico. The city's police force has 13 officers, nine of whom are women, and one police car. The area is in the midst of a war between rival cartels.

Man Chasing One-legged Goose Hauled from River

A goose in Wausau, Wisconsin escaped being dinner when the man who was chasing him had to be rescued from the Wisconsin River.

Troy Kaczor, 40, told police he shed his shirt and shoes at Big Bull Falls Park in downtown Wausau before he dove into the river, intending to catch the one-legged bird and then roast it, Wausau Police Lt. Bill Kolb said.

Kaczor, who had been drinking heavily before taking the plunge, was unable to escape the clutches of the cold water and was rescued by Wausau firefighters, Kolb said.

The goose, apparently sober and a better swimmer, escaped harm, but was unavailable for comment.

Centenarian Goes for PhD

Bholaram Das was 19 years old when he was jailed for opposing British rule in India in the 1930s. He has worked as a teacher, a lawyer, and a judge, and then retired in 1971. Last week Das celebrated his 100th birthday. Proving that you are never too old to pursue a dream, Das has enrolled in a PhD program at Guwahati University. The centenarian's children and grandchildren have pledged to help him in his quest to put "Dr." in front of his name.

Two Monkeys Named Station Masters

Hoping to draw new customers, Hojo-cho train station in Hyoto prefecture has named two baby monkeys as station masters. Nehime and Rakan, seven and three months old, were dressed in uniforms for their introduction to the public. They are following in the footsteps (or pawprints) of Tama, a tortoiseshell cat who was named station master of Kishi station in Wakayama prefecture four years ago. Tama was living at the station before the publicity stunt was conceived. See a video report.

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Food
Thanks to a Wet Winter, New Zealand Faces a Potential Potato Chip Shortage
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New Zealand has plenty of unique and tasty snacks, but kiwis also love potato chips. The universal comfort food is in danger Down Under, however, as an unusually wet winter has devastated the island country’s tuber crops, according to BBC News.

Twenty percent of New Zealand’s annual potato crop was wiped out from a series of major storms and floods that ravaged the nation’s North and South Islands, The Guardian reports. In some regions, up to 30 percent of potato crops were affected, with the varieties used to make chips bearing the brunt of the damage.

Potato prices spiked as farmers struggled, but the crisis—now dubbed “chipocalypse” by media outlets—didn't really make the mainstream news until supermarket chain Pak’nSave posted announcements in potato chip aisles that warned customers of a salty snack shortage until the New Year.

Pak’nSave has since rescinded this explanation, claiming instead that they made an ordering error. However, other supermarket chains say they’re working directly with potato chip suppliers to avoid any potential shortfalls, and are aware that supplies might be limited for the foreseeable future.

New Zealand’s potato farming crisis extends far beyond the snack bars at rugby matches and vending machines. Last year’s potato crops either rotted or remained un-harvested, and the ground is still too wet to plant new ones. This hurts New Zealand’s economy: The nation is the world’s ninth-largest exporter of potatoes.

Plus, potatoes “are a food staple, and this is becoming a food security issue as the effects of climate change take their toll on our potato crop,” says Chris Claridge, the chief executive of industry group Potatoes New Zealand, according to The Guardian.

In the meantime, New Zealanders are preparing to hunker down for a few long months of potential potato peril—and according to some social media users, kale chips are not a suitable alternative. “Chipocalypse” indeed.

[h/t BBC News]

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Supermarket Employees to Compete in National Bagging Competition
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In today’s busy world, efficiency is king—especially at grocery stores, where long checkout lines can turn even the most patient shopper into a petulant purchaser. It only makes sense, then, that a nationwide competition exists among supermarket employees to determine the country’s best bagger.

As the Associated Press reports, Alysha Orrok, a teacher from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, recently won her state’s Best Bagger competition. She’s now headed to the U.S. finals, which will take place in Las Vegas in February 2018 and is sponsored by the National Grocers Association (NGA).

In Las Vegas, finalists from more than a dozen states—ranging from Washington to Florida—will duke it out onstage to see who’s truly king or queen of the checkout line. Competitors will be judged on weight distribution, appearance, speed, and technique (no smushed bread or bruised fruits allowed).

Orrok, who works evenings and weekends at a local grocery store, says she was initially clumsy on the job. “My first day as a bagger I dropped a soda and it exploded everywhere,” she told NBC Boston.

Over time, though, Orrok got so good at her side gig that she decided to compete in the New Hampshire state bagging competition earlier this month. At the tournament, "I was like 10 seconds faster than the next person," Orrok said. "I feel like I get in the zone and I just fly."

Competitors heading to 2018’s Best Bagger competition will face off to see who can achieve the best customer service in the shortest time span. The grand prize is $10,000, which will be awarded to a deserving grocery store employee “with infectious company pride and an enthusiastic commitment to customer service,” according to the NGA.

[h/t NBC Boston]

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