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The Weird Week in Review

Tossed Pot Lands on Police Cruiser

A New York state trooper saw a man standing up in a car with his upper body sticking out of the sunroof on interstate 190 near Buffalo. When he began to follow the car with his flashing lights on, 20-year-old Sean Schmidt threw a small bag of marijuana away. Unfortunately for him, the bag landed on the hood of the police car. The pot was easily retrieved, and Schmitt was charged with marijuana possession in addition to a seat belt violation.

Man Robs Bank To Get Health Care

Richard James Verone of Gastonia, North Carolina walked into an RBC Bank and handed the teller a note demanding one dollar. It also said he had a gun. The teller handed him the money, and Verone sat down to wait for the police to arrive. Police arrested Verone without incident, as he was not armed after all. The 59-year-old Verone suffers from two ruptured discs and a growth in his chest, but could not afford medical care. His plan was to be convicted of armed robbery and receive treatment while incarcerated. However, the charge was only petty larceny, and as Verone's first offense, may get him only probation. While he awaits trial, his medical problems are being treated. Those who know say he should have thrown a brick through a post office window, which would have guaranteed a federal charge.

Snake Lost During Camping Trip

A camper at Addison Oaks County Park in Michigan reported that he had lost his 5-foot-long boa constrictor. The man was staying in a pop-up camper in the park's campground when the snake went missing. County officials called on herpetologists from Michigan zoos for help in determining whether the snake was a danger. A boa constrictor that size is a juvenile, and would be no threat to humans, but would look for small animals such as rodents. The camper was cited for violating park rules in bringing the snake to the campground.

Guy Fowlkes Arrested in "Gunpowder Plot"

The headline makes it sound as if history is repeating itself, but this happened in Ocoee, Florida. Guy Swindell Fowlkes was working at a fireworks tent and got into an argument with his girlfriend, who also worked there. According to the police report, the 33-year-old Fowlkes hit the woman, then went into the tent and began to light fireworks. He also lit firecrackers and placed them into the gas tank of a co-worker's car. As police approached, they could see explosions in the distance. Fowlkes was charged with arson and battery. Many of the fireworks explosions were caught on video.

37 Years Without a Bath

A farmer in India, Guru Kailash Singh, has neither bathed nor cut his hair since just after his wedding day -37 years ago! His wife says the family has tried to force a bath on him several times, but he manages to run away each time. Singh has nothing against bathing, but he was told by a priest years ago that giving up hygiene would help him produce a son. In the years since, seven daughters have been born into the family. Apparently Singh is holding onto that promise, even though his wife, Kalavati Devi, is now 60 years old.

Thief Wears Stolen Coat to Court

Stephen Kirkbride went to court in Kendal, Westmorland, England to answer charges of shoplifting from a sporting goods store. The expensive waterproof Craghopper jacket he wore to court was recognized by the store manager as the one that was stolen from the shop.

Kirkbride’s defence solicitor Judith Birkett argued her client ‘wouldn’t be so stupid’ as to turn up in stolen goods, but Kendal magistrate Jenny Farmer found him guilty of shoplifting, dismissing his excuses as ‘completely implausible’.

Store manager Deborah Robson said: “I pointed the jacket out to the police officer and he seized it straight away.”

Kirkbride claimed he bought the jacket from a thrift store, then said he got it from an unnamed friend. Security cameras had recorded Kirkbride taking the jacket from the store.

Dead Man Exhumed for Dentures

Kenneth Ray Manis of Chattanooga died while in the care of Parkridge Medical Center on June 12th, and was buried three days later. Only afterward did the hospital realize they had given Manis' family not only his personal effects, but those of his hospital roommate as well. The roommate's dentures had been buried with Manis. Two weeks later, arrangements were made at the family's request to exhume the grave and retrieve the dentures, to make sure Manis is buried with the correct teeth. The hospital will pay the cost of the exhumation.

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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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