Issue 21 of the Odd Stew: strange news items, oddities, plus other weird and fascinating things that have happened in the news that you may have missed.
A Costly Wrong Turn
In October 2017, the favorites expected to compete for the win in the Venice Marathon were in the lead about 16 miles into the race. With about 10 miles to go, the small group of runners out in front continued to follow a group of motorcycles and cars along the planned route. They had been following the caravan the entire time, but someone didn’t communicate a vital piece of information about the last leg of the race.
The motorcycles and cars exited the planned route just as they were supposed to, but there was a problem. The runners followed them. It was something the caravan of vehicles had always done during past marathons nearing the final leg of the race because of Venice’s tight streets farther up the route. Unfortunately, after the lead runners followed the vehicles onto a main thoroughfare, they found themselves more than 100 meters off course. A camera crew captured the runners as they were told of the error, but it was too late for any of them to win the race at that point.
The delay took the runners two minutes to correct, but what became a crushing realization and defeat for these elite runners became a moment of jubilation for a local runner named Eyob Ghebrehiwet Faniel. Faniel was only running in his second marathon and became the first Italian man in 22 years to win the Venice Marathon.
A Bad Bet
A man in Redford Township, Michigan, was wanted on several outstanding warrants by police in early October 2017. What was strange was that the suspect, Michael Martin Zaydel, began to correspond with the local police on their Facebook page under the alias Champagne Tarino. The wanted man made a bet with police that if their next post on Facebook got a thousand shares he would turn himself in and bring the officers a dozen donuts. He added to the bet that he would also pick up every piece of litter around the public schools.
The police department made the post, pleading for 1,000 shares. They added that sharing the post came with a promise of donuts for the officers. It took just over an hour for the post to receive 1,000 shares.
Amazingly, Zaydel made good on his promise and arrived at the station more than a week later carrying a dozen donuts along with one bagel. The man was taken into custody and was sentenced to county jail for 39 days.
One Courteous Burglar
A burglar broke into a restaurant called Nelly’s Taqueria in the middle of the night in Hicksville, New York, in early October 2017. The thief made off with $100 from the Cash Register, but a surveillance video revealed that the thief took a little more time than what would be expected of a burglar. It was almost as if he was making himself at home. The video showed that the man started to make himself a meal. He cooked up a dish of rice, frijoles, shrimp, and chicken and even put on and changed rubber gloves in between different cooking tasks. After he was done with his meal, he cleaned the pot he had used and scrubbed down the stove. He even picked up crumbs from the floor.
The next day, employees didn’t even know there had been a break-in until they saw the damaged cash register. The rest of the place was just how they had left it the night before. There was another clue other than the damaged cash register that someone had been in the establishment, however. The burglar had left a dollar in the tip jar.
It’s Raining Fish
The Weather Girls had a 1982 hit that it was raining men, but what about raining fish? That exact thing happened in Tampico, Mexico, at the end of September 2017. There was a light rain on a Tuesday morning in the city when residents began to report that fish, though not many, were falling from the sky. The fish weren’t large and weighed only a few grams, but they did fall from the sky and one resident had video to prove it.
Raining fish and other animals is actually not that far-fetched. The U.S. Library of Congress noted that there have been other times in history where animals had fallen from the sky. In 1873, it rained frogs in Kansas City, Missouri, and the same thing happened in 1882 in Dubuque, Iowa. In 1947, a biologist with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife observed small fish falling from the sky. More recently in 2005, the town of Odzaci, Serbia, had thousands of frogs rain down on them, while in 2010, a town in Australia observed perch falling from the sky to the ground.
There happens to be a logical explanation for this phenomenon. Scientists believe that tornadoes, or more specifically waterspouts, are likely the cause. Waterspouts are tornadoes that occur over the water’s surface or tornadoes that move from the land to water. It’s believed that the waterspout lifts animals into the air like a vacuum and deposit them when the waterspout loses energy. Another theory is that strong updrafts during thunderstorms, some of which can reach speeds of more than 60 miles per hour, could also pick animals up from the ground. The animals are then carried in the air and later dropped when the system has lost energy.
Unknown Feathered Vandals
In October 2017 in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Snellville, Georgia, people were waking up to find their car’s side mirrors were shattered. It was believed that vandals were at play. Whoever was vandalizing the cars even had the audacity to shatter mirrors in broad daylight. Police were called and began to investigate the rash of incidents that were being attributed to kids with a BB gun or hammer.
When the suspect was finally found, it wasn’t a kid, it was a pileated woodpecker. The territorial bird was seeing its own reflection in the mirror and was attacking what it thought was another woodpecker. The pileated woodpecker is a protected species so residents took a low-tech approach to stopping the animal’s destruction. They began to place plastic bags over the side mirrors of their cars anytime they were parked.
That’s Pretty Gross
A cigar that had been partially smoked by former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill sold at auction in Boston for $12,000 in mid-October 2017. Churchill’s smoked the La Corona cigar from Havana, Cuba, on May 11, 1947, at Le Bourget Airport in France. A British airman whose crew flew Churchill to and from Paris had kept the cigar. The buyer was from Palm Beach, Florida, and their name wasn’t released.
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