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Ronald Saracino
Ronald Saracino

The Weird Week in Review

Ronald Saracino
Ronald Saracino

ALLIGATORS CAN CLIMB TREES

Ronald Saracino of Cape Coral, Florida, could hardly believe his eyes when he saw an alligator sleeping in a tree, so he took a picture. Gators have been seen climbing fences, and crocodiles are known to climb trees, but an alligator? Florida Fish and Wildlife officials have confirmed that the creature in the photograph is indeed, an alligator. This gator is relatively small at about five feet long, but he will grow up someday.

SOUNDGARDEN HELPS LAUNCH THE SOUNDGUARDIAN

While the rest of the world was going nuts over Boaty McBoatface, another science boat was getting a name by internet poll, and this one turned out just fine. The waters of the Pacific Northwest will be monitored by the SoundGuardian.   

The name for King County’s new 48-foot, twin-hulled environmental research vessel was announced in January after a naming contest drew 319 votes. SoundGuardian led the way with 178 votes. The runners up were “Cascadia,” with 126 votes, and “SeaKing,” with 15 votes.

According to the county’s news release, Environmental Laboratory field scientists will use the SoundGuardian “to collect water quality data in Puget Sound, Lake Washington and the Duwamish River. The new vessel, which will replace the 40-year-old Liberty, will be cleaner, more efficient and safer to operate in rough waters.”

What’s even neater is that the Seattle band Soundgarden blessed the boat personally. Drummer Matt Cameron and guitarist Kim Thayil came to the official christening Wednesday. 

THE FOX BURGLAR

An unnamed family in Lewisham, UK, has been the victim of an unusual intruder. They had been finding objects out of place over time, but it wasn’t until they had their security cameras serviced that they found it was a fox! In reviewing the footage, the family found that the fox would wander the halls of the home “like he owns the place,” while the family was in the next room. A month ago, they came home to find their son’s game controller out in the back garden. The culprit was the fox, which came into his bedroom, picked up the PlayStation controller, and jumped out the back window. You have to wonder why people who use security cameras to guard their homes don’t also use window and door screens.   

ADDING INJURY TO INJURY

Irish jockey Chris Meehan was riding in a hurdle race in Merano, Italy, when his horse threw him, and he was kicked in the face as he fell. The kick broke his nose and bloodied his jaw. But help was on the way!

"The starter came over to help me because I was on my back and choking on my blood," Meehan explained. "He put me in the recovery position, with my right leg out straight.

"As if that wasn't bad enough, the racecourse ambulance came up alongside us and reversed up onto my leg. They stopped it on top of my leg so I started screaming; it broke it straight away.

It’s bad enough to be thrown and kicked without an ambulance driving over you. Meehan was flown back to Ireland and is expected to have surgery on both his jaw and leg. He won’t be able to ride again for at least two months. 

14-POUND HAIRBALL REMOVED

A 23-year-old woman recently had a 14-pound hairball removed from her stomach. The surgery gave her a lot of relief. Sophie Cox of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK, suffers from trichophagia, a nervous condition in which a person eats hair. She had been pulling out her hair and chewing on it for years, and began having stomach pains in 2014 after giving birth. Doctors tested for gallstones and cancer, and finally found the culprit by endoscopy. The bezoar was removed in an operation that lasted six hours. Now Cox is on a waiting list for therapy to treat the underlying condition. Be warned that the hairball is shown in the news story.

DISNEY PRINCESSES JUST WANTED BREAKFAST

Zahara and Zamiyah Beary, ages five and seven, got up early on Thursday morning, put on their Disney Princess costumes and shower caps, and set out from their home in Brooklyn to get breakfast. The girls’ parents were still asleep. The princesses first went to McDonald’s, then a bagel shop, but had no money to pay for their food. A bystander paid for their bagels. The girls then boarded a train and went to Manhattan! By that time, the police were alerted by the parents. Police found the girls at around 9:15, and took them to get hash browns at McDonald’s. The children were reunited with their family at the 78th Street precinct.   

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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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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