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The Weird Week in Review

Runaway Floating Island

An inflated sculpture named "Is Land" was deployed at the Secret Garden Party music festival in Cambridgeshire, England. The £9,000 helium-filled sculpture is seven meters wide and looks like a chunk of land with grass and trees on top. The island drifted off after someone cut the ropes tethering the balloon on July 24th and is now nowhere to be found. Anyone who sees the island is asked to report it to the project's website. Donations at the site will go toward getting a second sculpture ready for Burning Man.

Murder Suspect Found on TV Show

Until this week, Liu Hao was winning his way to a date as a contestant on Happy League, a popular TV dating show in China. The 39-year-old was selected over eight other eligible bachelors after he sang on the show. But police in Jilin city responded to a tip from a viewer who recognized Liu.

Police watched the tapes and indeed Liu resembled Wu Gang – who stabbed a man to death more than 13 years ago outside a restaurant in Jilin, said Li Ang, a police officer from the criminal investigation department of the Jilin Public Security Bureau.

Li told The Associated Press that after a monthlong investigation, Liu was detained as the key suspect in the case.

Liu had become so comfortable with his new identity over the years that he "didn't think twice" about appearing on TV. The show's website has since removed clips that feature Liu.

Turtle with Broken Shell Finally Released

Andre the green sea turtle was found over a year ago with a massive hole in his shell, most likely caused by a boat propeller. Veterinarians at at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Jupiter, Florida, found three pounds of sand inside his shell, which caused internal injuries and a collapsed lung. Local orthodontist Dr. Alberto A. Vargas applied a technique called "distraction osteogenesis," also called "sea turtle orthodontics," to brace and encourage proper shell growth. He attached an expander to the shell and adjusted it a quarter of a millimeter every day as the shell grew, in order to maintain proper pressure and shape. Andre's internal injuries were treated with a skin graft and vacuum therapy to help the wounds. After 13 months of treatment and rehabilitation, Andre was returned to the ocean on Wednesday.

Stiff Fine for Illegal Parking in Vilnius

Arturas Zuokas, mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania, had enough. The mayor was so fed up with illegal parking that he took a spin in a Russian armored personnel carrier, crushing an illegally parked Mercedes along the way. The publicity stunt and accompanying photos made the news worldwide. Zuokas specifically cited illegally parked luxury cars as showing "a lack of respect" for pedestrians and bike riders. That's at least one driver who won't be parking in the wrong place anymore.

Skeleton Driver Pulled Over

A car was pulled over in Plattling, Germany, when police officers saw it was being driven by a skeleton! However, the driver was found to be a 23-year-old British man named Martin Williams. Williams had just purchased a life-size skeleton replica and was afraid it might be damaged in the trunk, so he placed it in the passenger seat. The car was a British model, with the driver on the right side, unlike German cars. No charges were files as no crime had been committed.

Building a Nuclear Reactor in the Kitchen

An unnamed man in Angelholm, Sweden was arrested for attempting to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen. He was later released. Authorities doubt he would have seen success.

The 31-year-old tells the paper that he was able to buy radioactive waste from foreign companies and picked apart the components in a smoke detector (apparently older smoke detector contain nuclear material). He believes he spent between $5,000 and $6,000 on the project in total.

It was only later when the young man contacted Sweden's nuclear power agency that he realized his project was illegal. Police came to his apartment and confiscated the material. The young man was arrested but later released.

It is uncertain how the project went unnoticed, as the man kept a blog about his experiments.

Fish Goes on a Diet

An 8.8 pound giant gourami fish named Gary was donated to the Sea Life London Aquarium when he outgrew his tank, but the fish refused to eat. He refused to eat fish food, that is. The staff was puzzled until they found out Gary's previous owners had fed him nothing but chocolate cookies! Aquarium workers then started putting pieces of Kit-Kat bars inside grapes and other natural foods to entice Gary to eat. The fish is now being gradually weaned off chocolate.

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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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