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The Weird Week in Review

The Bike-eating Tree

A bicycle lost over 50 years ago has been found -five feet off the ground, swallowed by a tree. Ninety-nine-year-old Helen Puz told the story of how she received a bicycle for her 8-year-old son in 1954. The boy was not particularly happy about riding a girl's bike, and one day told his mother the bike was lost. Forty years later, Puz read a a local newspaper account of a tree in the same woods her son used to roam that had grown up around a bicycle. Photographs of the bike had already spread around the world. The mystery of where her son had left his bike all those years ago was solved. There's not much chance of recovering the bicycle; it's quite rusted, but the front wheel still turns!

Oompa-Loompas Sought in Assault Case

Police in Norwich, Norfolk, England, are looking for two Oompa-Loompas in connection with an assault on a 28-year-old man, who was left with cuts, bruises, and two black eyes. The man was attacked as he was leaving a kebab shop.

"Police are seeking a group of four people, two of whom were dressed as Oompa-Loompas, who attacked a male on a night out," a spokesman for Norfolk police said.

"Two of the males were dressed as Oompa-Loompas from [the Roald Dahl book] Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with painted orange faces and dyed green hair and were wearing hooped tops."

The spokesman added: "One of the males in the group then pushed the victim to the floor before he got up. He was then hit on the head, fell to the floor and hit again."

Anyone with information is urged to call the Norfolk police.

Three Tries, No Jewelry

Two men attempted to break into a jewelry store in Beaudesert, Australia, on New Year's Eve by breaking through the back wall of the building. However, when they went through the wall, they found themselves in a KFC outlet -which was still open! The two took the opportunity to hold up the restaurant, and made off with $2,600. Police said the KFC robbery was the pair's third unsuccessful attempt to burglarize the jewelry store that day! That morning, they had failed to break the store's glass windows. Then they tried breaking in through the back door, but entered a thrift store instead -which netted them only $50 from a charity box. The jewelry store remained untouched. Peter Welsh and Dwayne Doolan were arrested when police raided Welsh's home.

Suing for Her Name

A 15-year-old girl in Iceland is suing the government for the right to use her own name. Blaer Bjarkardottir was named and baptized before her family was informed that the name Blaer was not on Iceland's approved list of 1,853 female names. Blaer is referred to as "Stulka," which means simply "girl" on all official documents. The rules are especially frustrating, as Blaer is an Icelandic name, but only approved for males. Bjarkardottir points out that the name was used for a female character in a novel by a Nobel Prize-winning Icelandic author. Meanwhile, Bjarkardottir must explain the circumstances of not having an official name when dealing with any bank or government service.

Secret Fishing Spots Sold for Revenge

Angela Potter of Waikato, New Zealand was not happy when her ex-boyfriend moved to Australia with her suitcase, which she said has sentimental value. But he didn't take everything with him.

Miss Potter was clearing out her garage when she found the GPS markings for fishing spots in the Bay of Plenty and many other areas of the North Island, so she auctioned them off on Trade Me last January and scored herself a whopping $3000.

The auction received 89,688 views, making it the 10th most viewed Trade Me auction of 2012, a surprise to Miss Potter.

The ex-boyfriend was not happy about his secret fishing locations being sold to the highest bidder. Potter said she didn't do it to be vindictive, but rather for a laugh.

A Restraining Order Against Helicopter Parents

Aubrey Ireland is a 21-year-old student at the University of Cincinnati. A judge granted her a restraining order against her parents, who must now stay 500 feet away from their daughter until September. Ireland's complaints that her parents were controlling her life at first sound similar to many college students, but her parents installed monitoring software on her computer, required her to leave a Skype connection on all night so her mother could watch her sleep, and made unannounced 600-mile visits to Ireland's department head. They also threatened to force Ireland into mental health treatment. Since the restraining order was granted, Ireland's parents have requested a refund of $66,000 in educational costs. Meanwhile, Aubrey Ireland was awarded a full scholarship for her senior year.

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Weird
The Origins of 25 Monsters, Ghosts, and Spooky Things
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Though dressing up as an angel is acceptable, it’s ghouls and goblins that truly capture our imaginations during the Halloween season. As lit jack-o’-lanterns beckon and monsters lurk in the shadows, we explore the origins of 25 frightful things that go bump—or boo—in the night.

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Food
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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