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The Weird Week in Review

Secret Service Aids White House Invaders

A family of ducks walked through the lawn of the White House on Wednesday, though they needed some help doing it. A mother duck broached the perimeter, but the ducklings following her struggled to mount the concrete barrier. Secret Service agents came to the rescue, and lifted the ducklings through a fence. The agents received a round of applause from tourists watching the incident. Apparently, White House security determined the ducklings and their mother were no threat. The caper was captured on video.

Third-grader Gets Jury Duty Notice

Nine-year-old Jacob Clark of South Yarmouth, Massachusetts, received a notice that he was to report to the Orleans District Court on April 18 for jury duty. When his grandmother explained what that meant, Jacob became worried and didn't want to go. Jacob's father, Robby Clark called the jury commission and found that somewhere along the line, Jacob's birth year was listed in official documents as 1982 instead of 2002. The third-grader was relieved to learn he doesn't have to serve this year.

Promotion Leads to Massive Bomb Scare

They obviously did not recall the colossal Mooninite caper of 2007. Convar Deutschland, a German computer company, sent out advertising packages for their data-recovery service to prospective clients in the form of what appeared to be time bombs.

Convar Deutschland thought they had cooked up an exciting way to attract new clients, when they began gluing hard drives to alarm clocks and sending them to companies with a note reading, “Your time is running out.”

They sent out a total of 40 “time bombs” to businesses, shops, a handful of embassies and even the offices of a newspaper group.

But instead of drumming up customers, the stunt caused mayhem as terrified recipients called the police and prompted building evacuations, Berlin paper Tagesspiegel reported on Friday.

The company may have to pay the police for expenses incurred.

Fluorescent Millipedes Discovered on Alcatraz

Scientists using black lights to trace dyed rat bait on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco have found something completely unrelated -and unexpected. They discovered millipedes that glow under black light beams. There are known bioluminescent millipede species in California, but the glowing mechanism of the Alcatraz millipedes appears to be different. Scientists are studying them to determine whether they are a new subspecies. And to answer your question, yes, they isolated a sample of the millipedes to make sure they weren't glowing because they had eaten the rat bait.

Woman Cheats Drug Test; Fails

Mischelle Lindy Salzgeber, of Dade City, Florida, had to undergo a drug test because she is on probation. Knowing she would fail, Salzgeber had a plan to use someone else's urine instead of her own. As she went through a full-body scan, an x-ray revealed she had a small bottle hidden in her vagina. Salzgeber was questioned and eventually admitted that she had smuggled urine in the bottle for her drug test, which had already taken place. However, even if she hadn't been caught, she would have failed the drug test, because the smuggled urine was not the clean sample she though it was!

Pet Lizard Undergoing Chemotherapy

Lizzie Griffiths, of Purley, Greater London, England, adopted George the bearded dragon from a shelter a year ago despite the fact that he was ill from a chest infection. She nursed the lizard back to health, but then he developed a tumor on his face. Griffiths had the cancer removed twice, but it came back again. Now the lizard is getting chemotherapy treatment -the first bearded dragon to have such treatment in the UK. Griffiths has spent £3,000 on veterinary services so far -and must drive George 200 miles every day for his appointments. Griffiths doesn't mind the expense, because she is devoted to her dragon.

UFO Fragment Lands in Siberia

An unidentified piece of metal fell from the sky over Siberia, according to Russian media reports. Locals from the village of Otradnesnky dragged the U-shaped metal fragment from the forest where it was found. Authorities confiscated the object soon after. A representative of the Russian space agency says the metal did not come from a rocket or missile. Experts assured villagers that the object is not radioactive. There is speculation that it may be a piece of a rocket from a launch from Kazakhstan.

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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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