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The Weird Week in Review

Bear-safety Lecture Interrupted by Bear

Last Friday, Yellowstone National Park bear biologist Kerry Gunther and park spokesman Dan Hottle were being filmed by a CNN news crew about bear safety. While recording the segment, they spotted a hiker and a black bear nearby. The bear was walking toward the edge of the water, and the frightened hiker jumped into the water. A group of kayakers helped the hiker, Erin Prophet, back to land. The bear was minding its own business and did not appear to pose a threat. Gunther said the incident was only memorable because the news crew was present.

North Dakota May Not be a State

Looking at the fine print, 82-year-old John Rolczynski of Grand Forks, North Dakota found evidence that North Dakota might not legally be one of the United States. When the state was founded in 1889, the state constitution did not conform to federal requirements, which say the governor and other officials must take an oath of office. Rolczynski pointed out the mistake 16 years ago, and finally the matter may be resolved, as State Senator Tim Mathern has introduced a bill to correct the state constitution. The matter will be put to North Dakota voters in the spring.

Driver Wore Colander for License Photo

Citing religious reasons, Niko Alm demanded the right to wear a colander on his head for his driver's license photo in Vienna, Austria. He is a pastafarian, or a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He was granted his request by licensing officials -but that doesn't mean pastafarianism is recognized as an official religion by the state. A police spokesman said that the pasta strainer Alm wore on his head did not violate any license rules, which merely state that a driver's whole face must be clearly visible in the photo. Therefore, a religious exemption for the headgear was not necessary.

Owl Leaves Perfect Print on Window

Sally Arnold of Kendal, Cumbria, UK, found an almost-perfect picture of an owl imprinted on her home's picture window. But the owl itself was nowhere to be found.

The bird had apparently crashed into the window of Sally Arnold's Kendal home, leaving the bizarre image - complete with eyes, beak and feathers.

Experts said the silhouette was left by the bird's "powder down" - a substance protecting growing feathers.

The detailed picture leaves the "impression" that the crash was pretty hard, but the bird left no feathers behind, and so was assumed to have flown away on its own.

Man Reports Marijuana Theft to Police

Twenty-year-old Max Fleck called Chicago police and reported that he had been robbed by three men who entered his apartment. He said the men hit him and his 19-year-old friend and left with two pounds of marijuana and a laptop computer. One of the intruders had been to the apartment earlier that evening. When police arrived at the crime scene, they found more narcotics and arrested Fleck on two counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of marijuana possession.

Town Sings Songs to Soothe Angry Elves

Townspeople in Bolungarvik, Iceland were upset that a new tunnel and avalanche barrier required the use of dynamite. They believed the explosions bothered the "hidden folk and elves" who subsequently began playing pranks such as rolling rocks down the hills. Seers asked Bolungarvik officials to apologize to the unseen spirits, but they refused. So, to placate the hidden people, who were never consulted about the construction, a ceremony was held and songs were sung. Heavy machinery was shut off during the rites, then crews went back to work on the avalanche barrier afterward.

Hiring Strippers for Funerals

One entertainment option for funerals in Taiwan is the Electric Flower Car, a lighted stage on which young women will strip to their underwear. The show is more common in rural areas, and the performers also sing for the mourners and onlookers. Reasons given for the strippers vary, from pleasing the lower gods or distracting ghosts to having a funeral that the deceased would have enjoyed.

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The TSA's Top 10 Strangest Finds of 2017
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Airport security checkpoints are dull for everyone except Bob Burns, the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) witty social media lead. For the uninitiated, Burns—who’s also known as “Blogger Bob”—keeps track of the strange, hilarious, and dangerous things people try bringing on planes, and posts pictures of the more unusual items onto the organization's Instagram page. Among the many strange items Burns has encountered are countless knives and guns, a tiny dog trapped in a checked suitcase, a sandwich slicer, and even a life-size corpse prop from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Bob Burns, the TSA's social media lead
Courtesy of Bob Burns

To commemorate yet another year on the job filled with bizarre checkpoint finds, Burns recently created the video below. It highlights the top 10 weirdest TSA finds from 2017, which range from bladed metal knuckles Burns dubbed “Satan’s Pizza Cutter” to narcotics disguised as Christmas presents.

“We hate to tear open a perfectly wrapped gift, but as you can see from this [video], the contents of the gifts aren’t always sweaters, socks, and underwear,” Burns tells Mental Floss.

While making the video, Burns didn’t have pictures on hand of every single strange object he wanted to include. If so, he might have added a weaponized paint roller that was discovered inside a carry-on bag at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. It “looks like something out of a Mad Max movie,” Burns says. “It’s as if Mad Max wanted to paint the Thunderdome with the blood of his victims. It’s a paint roller wrapped in sandpaper and wire with nails protruding.”

A weaponized paint roller discovered by the TSA in 2017
Courtesy of Bob Burns

Other items that weren't captured in Burns's video that piqued the social media guru’s interest included grenade-shaped salt and pepper shakers and a knife concealed inside a container of Dove men’s deodorant. “Now I get why [the label] reads ’48 hours of protection,'” Burns says.

A knife hidden inside a deodorant container, discovered by the TSA in 2017
Courtesy of Bob Burns

Watch the video below to view Burns’s entire top 10 list of unusual checkpoint finds, and when you're done, check out the TSA's Instagram for more of his signature hilarity.

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Declared Dead, Spanish Prisoner Wakes Up in Morgue Just Before His Autopsy 
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A prisoner in northern Spain survived his "death" and lived to tell the tale when he woke up in a hospital mortuary after being officially certified as deceased. He was scheduled for an autopsy, and remains under hospital observation in Oviedo, Spain, according to the BBC.

Gonzalo Montoya Jiménez, 29, was discovered unconscious in his cell on Sunday, January 7, Spanish news outlets report. It's now thought that he might have suffered from catalepsy, a condition in which people become immobile and cease responding to external stimuli. With waxy, flexible limbs and slowed vital signs, patients with catalepsy can appear dead—which might be why not one but three physicians concluded that Jiménez had crossed over to the other side. 

Jiménez was moved to the Institute of Legal Medicine in Oviedo after doctors ordered an autopsy on the inmate's body, IFL Science reports. Family members—who had been informed that Jiménez was dead—said the prisoner’s body was already marked up for dissecting when he began showing signs of life. A forensic team noticed and moved Jiménez to an intensive care unit, where the patient ultimately regained both his memory and speech.

Catalepsy is associated with epilepsy, schizophrenia, nervous system drug toxicity, and other conditions, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Jiménez reportedly has epilepsy, and it's unclear whether prison doctors knew that when they first declared him dead. 

[h/t BBC News]

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