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The Weird Week in Review

Marijuana Christmas Tree

Police in Germany seized a Christmas tree from a resident of Koblenz, because under the ornaments was a six-foot-tall marijuana plant! It had been cut and set into a Christmas tree stand, then decorated with a string of lights. The unnamed owner of the tree told police he planned to put wrapped gifts underneath it. He was promptly arrested and held on drug charges. Along with the tree, police seized another 150 grams of marijuana in the apartment.

Old Rolex Brings Unexpected Fortune

A retired doctor named Bob decided to sell his watch on eBay. It was a Rolex that he bought for a few dollars at a Navy Exchange in 1958. Bob wore the watch for decades and then put it away for a few years before deciding to get rid of it. He set the starting bid at $9.95 and didn't expect much more. But those who know recognized his watch as a rare Rolex Submariner Ref 5510, worn by Sean Connery as James Bond in the movies Dr. No, Goldfinger, and Thunderball. The bidding closed at $66,100! Bob has no regrets about selling the watch.

Monetary Jigsaw Puzzle

A businessman in Taiwan named Lin accidentally fed a sack of money into his company's industrial scrap machine -a shredder!

The 200,000 New Taiwan dollars are worth $6,600 US or £4,000. Each of the 200 bank notes was torn into about 20 pieces. The shredded money was taken to the Taiwanese Justice Ministry, which offers to repair torn money. Investigator Liu Hui-fen, a forensic scientist who normally works on handwriting samples, went to work putting the pieces together. Liu has handled many cases of torn money, but never a job like this. She fitted the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, and eventually restored all 200 bills to a condition that is acceptable by the central bank.

History Repeats Itself in Traffic Citation

An unnamed man was ticketed for speeding twice, once in England and then two years later in New Zealand. The odd thing was that the same police officer issued both citations! Andy Flitton was an officer with the London Metropolitan Police when the first citations was issued. He then emigrated to New Zealand, where he became a constable in the town of Rangiora. The driver, originally from South Africa, had lived in London for twelve years and then also moved to New Zealand. He was there less than two weeks before being pulled over by Flitton -again.

"He asked if I had worked in London," Constable Flitton said. "I said, 'yes'.

"He asked if I used to operate the laser gun on the A5 in north London. I said, 'yes'.

"And he said, 'I thought it was you. You gave me my last speeding ticket there two years ago'.

The two men then laughed about the coincidence. The driver has only received two traffic tickets in his life, and both came from Constable Flitton.

Police from Three Towns Respond to Bridesmaid Fight

A fight between two members of the wedding party led to police involvement in Verona, New Jersey. Around 100 people were at the reception when two bridesmaids began fighting. The fight was still going on when Verona police arrived. The officers called for backup from the Cedar Grove and Montclair police departments. A local rescue squad treated four people for minor injures. Police did not arrest the two bridesmaids, but escorted them from the reception hall, after which the festivities continued. Police say they don't know what the fight was about, calling a "family dispute."

Crash Leaves Family Coated with Paint

A minor traffic accident in New Germany, South Africa left a family covered in paint. Two adults and two children emerged from their Fiat uninjured, but also unrecognizable. They were traveling with a five-gallon bucket of white paint sitting on the back seat, and the force of the wreck caused the lid to pop off. The paint splashed all over the interior of the car. The occupants of the second car involved in the wreck were also unhurt. Fortunately, plenty of photographs were taken of the aftermath.

Roosters Wear Cool Shades for Peace

A free-range chicken farm in Chengdu, China is experimenting with a new method of preventing cockfighting. The competitive roosters tend to attack each other on sight. Now they are are fitted with special round blinders that resemble John Lennon's trademark specs to prevent them from seeing straight ahead, so they don't see their rivals. The shades are working so far, and other farmers in the region are considering using them.

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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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