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Traditions Club

The Weird Week in Review

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Traditions Club

World Record Gingerbread House Attracts Tourists, Bees

The Texas A&M Traditions Club has built the world's biggest gingerbread house in Bryan, Texas. Guinness World Records officials certified that the 39,201.8-cubic-foot structure is the biggest ever, surpassing the previous record-holder at the Mall of America. The house is over 20 feet tall at its highest point. The house is open for tours through December 14th, with proceeds going to the St. Joseph Level II Trauma Center.

The outside of the house is roped off so that no one aiming to make sure that it’s made of gingerbread reaches out and takes a bite of the exterior. That’s actually what Horton did when the official from Guinness World Records was working on validating the record.

“The Guinness guy said it had to be real gingerbread and real icing, so I ate a chunk,’’ Horton said. “He said, ‘Either that’s real gingerbread, or you’re an idiot.’’’

The downside of such a large gingerbread house is that it's outdoors. The club had to find a tarp to shelter the building from rain and humidity, and a colony of a couple thousand bees has taken up residence in order to sample the sugary edifice.

Young Entrepreneur Told to Beg Instead

Eleven-year-old Madison Root of Portland, Oregon, came up with the idea to sell mistletoe from her uncle's farm to raise money to help pay for her braces. She began selling the sprigs in a public park, but was told by a guard that she couldn't conduct business in the park without a business permit. He suggested that she ask for donations instead -which is designated as free speech and does not require a permit. The logic of telling a child to panhandle instead of selling a product bothered Madison's father so much he took the story to the local news. The point was to shine a light on the practice of encouraging begging over commerce, but the publicity brought in so many orders for mistletoe that Madison is scrambling to fill them. Meanwhile, Portland's mayor said he is reviewing the city code.

Twerking Student Set Off Fire Alarm

Twerking is now banned at North Naples Middle School in Colllier County, Florida. The incident that led to the ban happened Tuesday, when a male 6th-grader put his feet up against a wall in order to twerk. His foot slipped and hit a fire alarm switch, which summoned the local fire department. The unnamed student was suspended, but it was for an unnamed incident after the fire alarm went off. The North Naples Fire Department confirmed they were called to a false alarm at the school on Tuesday.

Letter Returned to Sender—68 Years Later

The San Francisco Chronicle received a return letter in the mail that it had sent out in 1945. It was labeled by the postal service as "not deliverable." And it's no wonder: the woman it was addressed to, Thelma Weber, moved from the address in 1970 and is now deceased. For that matter, so is the sender, Chronicle reporter Peter Trimble, who died in 2001. There's no word on why the postal service took so many years to give up on delivering the letter. For the record, the envelope contained stamps from several nations inside. Trimble's daughter confirmed that her parents knew Ms. Weber, but she doesn't know why her father would have sent her stamps.

Poor Puppy Looks Like Hitler

Patch is his name, but everyone calls him Adolf these days. At only seven weeks old, the French bulldog-shih tzu cross is white with black patches in all the right places: a short mustache under his black nose and a off-center mop on his head. Lynda Whitehead of York, England, is raising Patch and his two brothers.

Lynda said: “He’s my grandson’s dog, and none of us noticed the likeness until we put a photo on Facebook. When my eldest daughter saw it she said ‘You’ve got a little Hitler there’.

“Although he’s called Patch, everybody calls him Adolf now. My grandsons are the worst for doing the goosestep when the puppy’s around.”

At this point, Patch, who is a sweet dog, is more liable to answer to "Adolf" than to his name.

Amazon Receives Cake for Third Anniversary of Unpaid Invoice

MusicBrainz, which is owned by a nonprofit charity MetaBrains, provided premium services for Amazon three years ago, and has yet to be paid for it. In honor of the long time that they have tried to get Amazon to pay invoice #144, they sent a cake to Amazon headquarters decorated with icing that reads, "Dear Amazon, Congratulations on 3rd Anniversary of invoice #144!" Whether or not Amazon employees enjoyed the cake, the photo of it has gone viral, and may get the attention of someone with responsibility for the company's accounts payable department.

5 Strange News Stories From This Week

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. MAN PAYS FINE WITH FIVE WHEELBARROWS OF PENNIES

On January 11, Nick Stafford of Cedar Bluff, Virginia, carted 1600 pounds of pennies into the Lebanon Department of Motor Vehicles to pay taxes on two of his vehicles. It was the end of a saga that began in September, when Stafford tried to find out which of his homes (which are located in two counties) he should use to register his son's new car. When he tried to call his local DMV, he was routed to a larger call center—and so, to get the local number he wanted, he submitted a successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Then he went one step further, filing three lawsuits to get the direct numbers for nine other local DMVs. “If they were going to inconvenience me then I was going to inconvenience them,” Stafford told The Herald Courier.

A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuits when the state's Attorney General physically handed Stafford the phone numbers in the courtroom. But Stafford still had to pay sales tax on his vehicles, and he got in one last dig at the DMV while doing so: First, he bought five new wheelbarrows. Then, he bought a bunch of rolls of pennies. He hired 11 people to help him unroll the pennies—300,000 in total—and drove them to the DMV, where he put them in the wheelbarrows and, with the help of people he had hired, rolled them in. (“I’m not used to lifting,” Stafford said. “These are heavy.”) The lawsuits, wheelbarrow, and hired help cost Stafford more than $1000 above the amount of the vehicle tax.

2. MOTORIST JAILED OVER KITTY LITTER

When he was pulled over in early December 2016, Ross Lebeau thought it was a routine traffic stop—but Houston sheriff's deputies arrested him on drug charges. In his car, the officers had found a substance in a sock, which, when field tested, was positive for meth. A press release stated that Lebeau had been found with a half pound of meth in his vehicle; the release contained both Lebeau's mugshot and a picture of the substance seized.

Lebeau spent three days in jail, but he was released when lab tests revealed that the substance was not meth after all—it was kitty litter! As WMC Action News 5 reported on January 7:

Lebeau said the substance was cat litter inside a sock.

His father left one in his car and gave the other to his sister for her car. It's supposed to keep the windows from fogging up.

The problem was that two field tests done by deputies came back positive for meth.

The county's forensic lab tested the substance as well, and no drugs were found. The case was then dismissed, but the damage was already done to Lebeau's reputation. "People have been calling me a kingpin or drug lord," Lebeau said, adding that he's lost out on work because of the accusation. “I was wrongly accused, and I'm going to do everything in my power to clear my name."

3. SWISS TOWN DENIES PASSPORT TO "ANNOYING" DUTCH VEGAN

Nancy Holten was born in the Netherlands, but she's lived in Switzerland since she was a child. The outspoken vegan and animal rights activist has campaigned against the cowbells that local livestock wear, saying the tradition is animal abuse, and has complained about loud church bells, hunting, and pig races. Holten, who is seeking Swiss citizenship, as been denied twice. Local residents can approve or deny villagers' requests, and they have deemed Holten too annoying. As Yahoo News UK reported on January 11:

"Tanja Suter, the president of the local Swiss People’s Party, claimed Ms Holten has a 'big mouth' and that residents did not want to grant her citizenship 'if she annoys us and doesn’t respect our traditions.'"

Holten's citizenship case has been transferred to the Cantonal (regional) government body, which can overturn the local decision.

4. MAN FOUND STUCK IN KITCHEN VENT

Gjyste (Julie) Margilaj heard a crashing sound in her first-floor Manhattan apartment kitchen just after midnight on January 10. “I freaked ... out for a couple of minutes, and then I went over to the kitchen and I heard someone panting and breathing like they were in obvious pain. They were freaking out," she told the New York Daily News. “I opened the kitchen vent so he could breathe.” The man, a new resident of the seven-story building, had been on the roof hanging with some friends when, according to the FDNY, he removed the cover of an exhaust fan and slid down into the ductwork. "The shaft was so small that his body took up the entire vent," FDNY Chief Patrick Tansey told Pix 11 News. "So, using power tools was out of the question. We had to expose him by hand." The man—who was wearing just his underwear—only had minor injuries after the ordeal. "He had told the occupant who called us something about a pool in the basement," Tansey said, "but I don't know."

5. GOLFER RUN OVER BY TOILET

This week, Brian Berg filed a lawsuit over an incident that occurred last summer at Fox Run Golf Links in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. The golfer was enjoying a day on the green when he was run over by a portable toilet. An employee of the course was using a forklift to move the toilet but couldn't see where he was going because the toilet obscured his vision. According to CBS Chicago,

"After he was knocked to the ground by the porta-potty’s “initial blow,” it did not stop, hitting him in the face and knocking him unconscious, the suit says. It injured his shoulder, cut his chin, cracked a rib, bruised a bicep and caused 'a large, deep bruise to his leg.'"

Berg is asking $50,000 in damages from the Elk Grove Park District, which runs the golf course, and the forklift driver.

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5 Strange News Stories From This Week
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iStock

Welcome to The Weird Week in Review, where we bring you odd news stories from all over.

1. CALF GETS LASSOED FROM THE HOOD OF A POLICE CAR

When authorities got a call about a calf that was loose on Tennessee's Highway 79N, David Bevill of Paris, Tennessee, volunteered to help local police capture it. Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew drove down the highway with Bevill on the hood, ready to rope in the calf. According to a Facebook post,

Belew said the calf became loose when a man was driving through town and his cattle trailer door broke. “There were actually two that got loose, but Dr. Lyons at Mineral Wells Animal Clinic and his crew were able to get the other one,” Belew said.

“So everybody is happy—we roped one calf, Dr. Lyons got the other one and the guy who was hauling them through town is happy, too,” Belew said.

It's always handy to know a cowboy when you've got a job to do.

2. CAT STUCK IN SUPPORTS OF DOUBLE-DECKER HIGHWAY FOR NINE DAYS

Erin McCutcheon's cat Juno escaped a zippered cat carrier and jumped out of a moving car on the upper deck of I-93 in Boston on Christmas Day. McCutcheon couldn't find her cat, and so distributed posters and put out a call for help on Facebook. On Tuesday, a Local 103 crew of electricians doing maintenance work spotted Juno high above the lower deck, perched on the support girders under the upper deck. Juno had been stuck 80 feet above the highway for nine days! The crew couldn't catch the frightened feline, but eventually lured her out with cans of cat food. Juno, hungry and thirsty, went home with electrician Jay Frazier, and was later reunited with the McCutcheons.

3. MAN CARRIES SCISSORS IN BODY FOR 18 YEARS

Ma Van Nhat underwent surgery at Bac Kan Hospital in Vietnam in 1998 after suffering injuries in a traffic accident. Recently, he complained of pain in his abdomen, which doctors dismissed as a stomachache. But on December 27, during a routine checkup, a doctor determined there was a foreign object there. Last Saturday, surgeons removed a pair of surgical scissors, which had apparently been inside Nhat for 18 years. The scissors had broken and adhered to Nhat's abdominal organs. According to The Huffington Post,

The hospital’s director, Trinh Thi Luong, is now taking great pains to find out who may have left the scissors inside Nhat.

“Even if they are already retired, we will still inform them,” Luong said, according to Reuters. “This is a lesson to all doctors.”

4. MAN OPENS DOOR TO BRICK WALL

An unnamed man in Mainhausen, Germany, woke up Monday morning and got ready for work as usual—but when he opened his front door, he couldn't leave: Someone had built a brick wall over the door opening. The perpetrators had built the wall quickly and quietly during the night. He had to tear out the bricks to leave his house. Police don't know whether the wall was a prank or an act of revenge.

5. NEW SHERIFF GETS ARRESTED

The citizens of Roane County, West Virginia, elected a new sheriff in November. Bo Williams began his new job last Sunday, but on Tuesday, according to the New York Daily News, he was was arrested on charges of grand larceny for stealing meth from an evidence locker at his previous job with the Spencer, West Virginia, police department. Bags of meth with evidence numbers were found in his desk and in his car. Williams had resigned from that job after admitting to drug addiction in December. The Roane County commission removed Williams from office that same day, and asked a former sheriff to step in to run the department. Williams is out of jail on bond and may face up to 10 years in prison.

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