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The Weird Week in Review

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Man Fights Off Shark, Stitches Up Leg, Goes to Pub

James Grant of Colac Bay, New Zealand, was spear fishing with friends when he was attacked by a shark. He stabbed the shark with a knife, which caused it to leave. When he got out of the water, he saw a deep gash in his leg where the shark bit him. Grant, a junior doctor, removed his wetsuit and stitched up the wound, using supplies from a first aid kit. Then he and his friends went to the Colac Bay Tavern. The bar staff gave him a towel because his wound was bleeding onto the floor. Sometime afterward, he went to a hospital for a proper re-stitching. Grant plans to return to the water as soon as the stitches are out.

Genius Gets Free Lunch for a Year from Airline

This scheme would never pay off with an American airline, but it was well worth it for an unnamed man in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China. He bought a first-class ticket for a flight, then went to the airport and showed the ticket for admittance to China Eastern Airlines VIP lounge, where they serve complimentary meals with complimentary drinks. Then he left the lounge and changed his ticket to a flight for the next day. Then he returned and got another complimentary meal, with drinks. He changed his itinerary and took meals more than 300 times! When the ticket was about to expire, he cancelled it and got a full refund. The airline acknowledged that he did nothing illegal. What do you want to bet that China Eastern Airlines will change its policies soon to be more in line with other airlines that charge a fee for changes in itinerary and for cancellations?

90 Farting Cows Start Fire in Germany

This is what happens when you put too many well-fed cows in one shed. Maybe it was cold outside, but close quarters do not stop cows from farting. And the gas from 90 cows can be dangerous.

High levels of the gas had built up in the structure in the central German town of Rasdorf, then "a static electric charge caused the gas to explode with flashes of flames," the force said in a statement.

The report says the roof was damaged. We can imagine it being blown clean off. The cows fared pretty well, with only one animal being treated for burns.

River Flows with Scotch Whisky

It wasn’t a truck spill, but a serious mistake. A truck carrying 27,500 liters of Scotch whisky emptied its cargo into the wrong vat at a bottler in Scotland. The vat overflowed, and 6,600 liters went into the River Ayr. Don’t head to Scotland to take advantage of the situation, because the spill happened in 2011. This week, a fine of £12,000 was levied against Glen Catrine Bonded Warehouse Limited for polluting the river (need I say, one man’s pollution is another man’s Scotch and water). The company has set systems in place to ensure that such a mistake doesn’t happen again.

Thousands of Chickens Cross the Road

Why did all the chickens cross the road? To get to the other side, silly! And also because they were escaping from the truck that was transporting them when it overturned. The truck was filled with chicken coops when it turned over on a highway in Guizhou province. Coops containing about 3,000 chickens broke open, and the birds made a run for it. Police jumped in to help round up about 900 of the chickens. The rest are presumable wandering the countryside. Let’s just hope they look both ways before crossing the road again. With video.

Town Buried in Tumbleweeds

The residents of Clovis, New Mexico, were surprised when they woke up Monday morning to find they were buried in tumbleweeds! A wind from the north brought tumbleweeds to Clovis, and they settled up against the houses on the north side of town. Some homes had tumbleweeds up to their roofs, and doors and garages were covered. City crews went to work, and neighbors pitched in to help dig out the homes that were obstructed by the weeds. They are in the process of hauling them all to the city landfill, and hope to have the town cleaned up by the weekend.

Marijuana to Be Judged at Denver County Fair

County fairs are traditionally the time to show off garden produce and livestock, and maybe ride a ferris wheel and eat fried food on a stick. The tradition spread to Denver only in 2011, with a fair that started out to be new and different. What will be new and different this year is marijuana judging and a joint-rolling competition.

There won't actually be any marijuana at the fairgrounds. The judging will be done off-site, with photos showing the winning entries. And a live joint-rolling contest will be done with oregano, not pot.

But county fair organizers say the marijuana categories will add a fun twist on Denver's already-quirky county fair, which includes a drag queen pageant, tattoo competitions and a contest for homemade robots.

The Denver County Fair will run August 1-3.

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Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
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technology
A Rare Apple Lisa 1 Computer Is Up for Auction on eBay
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Dave Jones, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

For superfans of vintage Apple products, a working Apple Lisa 1 is the holy grail of collector's items. First released in 1983, the pioneering computer (the first to feature a graphic interface and a mouse) was a commercial failure and only sold 100,000 units, very few of which survived to the present day. But an eBay seller is offering up the super-rare opportunity to own one, as DesignTAXI reports.

The computer in question, selling for more than $55,000 as of January 8, is in mint condition. According to the listing, it has only been turned on a few times.

A Lisa 1 computer
professorinschubert, eBay

As you can see in the video below, everything seems to be in working order.

The seller estimates that there are only 20 to 100 Lisa 1s left in the world. And even for a Lisa 1, this one is a rare machine. Lisa computers, reportedly named after Steve Jobs’s daughter (though there have been some other theories about the name), were the only machines Apple released with its doomed Twiggy disk drives—a faulty format that turned out to be incredibly unreliable, leading to the product’s downfall. Apple then released the Lisa 2 with standard 3.5-inch floppy disk drives, offering customers free upgrades for their Lisa 1 Twiggy drives.

Since most customers jumped at the chance to make their $10,000 computer ($24,700 in today's dollars) run properly, Lisas that still have their original Twiggy drives are incredibly hard to find. The Lisa 1 on sale still has its twin Twiggy drives though, and they work, at least as well as the drives ever worked.

Whether the seller will actually get his $55,000 is questionable. In 2010, a similar Lisa 1 sold for just $15,000. But the model seems to have gained a lot of value since then, since one sold for $50,000 in November 2017.

[h/t DesignTAXI]

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Big Questions
Why Do Honeycrisp Apples Cost So Much?
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iStock

Apples to apples is no longer a valid comparison. As gastronomic writer Sarah Jampel at Food52 has observed, shoppers who prefer a premium fruit experience by opting for Honeycrisp apples can pay up to four times as much as they would for other varieties. When did Granny Smiths become the RC Cola to Honeycrisp’s Coke?

According to Jampel, the answer invokes the old law of supply and demand. There’s plenty of demand for the apple, but prices get engorged when there isn't enough to go around.

The scarcity is a result of the Honeycrisp’s eccentric nature. Introduced commercially in 1991 after being invented by University of Minnesota scientist David Bedford, who cross-pollinated seeds to create a more durable and winter-resistant apple, the Honeycrisp tree demands very specific soil and maintenance requirements. The fruit can ripen at various times, necessitating more frequent harvests; the skin is thin and delicate, so they must be trimmed off by hand. Many of the trees are so delicate they require a trellis [PDF] to support their branches.

All the extra labor means more time and money—the latter of which is passed along to the consumer.

Growers who didn’t anticipate the surging popularity of Honeycrisps were also caught off-guard. As trees can take up to six years to bear enough fruit for commercial purposes, the number of trees currently producing isn’t really proportionate to the level of demand.

That will change as more are planted, although it might be a little while before the Honeycrisp proves to be on the same economic footing as its Red Delicious counterpart. Before you celebrate a cheaper version, remember that growers looking to feed the market might opt to grow the apple in less-than-perfect conditions that could affect its famously crunchy taste. Enjoy it while you can.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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