Oddities for the Month of February of 2022

This is a list of weird, wacky, and other unusual stories that we found around the web. It is for February, 2022.

News got you down? Feeling blue about New Years resolutions not being kept? Come on in and get nicely distracted by some weird news!

Who Steals a Bobcat?

There are some strange things people try to steal. On the list of weird things to steal, a bobcat ought to be one of them:

The man accused of stealing Blanche the bobcat was apprehended Friday around 5 p.m.

Blanche was returned to Pocono Snake and Animal Farm with no apparent serious injury, said Jon Lowris.

A 22-year-old bobcat named Blanche was stolen from a zoo in the Poconos Friday morning.

“This man just walked right in past the camera,” said Jon Lowris, whose family has owned Pocono Snake and Animal Farm for 15 years. “Four minutes later, we see him struggling, kicking the bobcat out the door.”

Blanche is an elderly cat, medicated for arthritis and a heart condition. She’s a sweetheart, too, Lowris said, but he knows she didn’t like to be manhandled. Employees found chunks of hair and a broken claw in the parking lot, and state police believe the man may have been injured in the struggle.

I’m not one to be OK with people being injured in a story, but this might just be an exception to that.

The Story that Starts With Mayo and Ends With Life in Prison

Mayo, serious business:

Kristofer Erlbacher, 29, of Woodbine, was sentenced Monday to a mandatory life sentence after being convicted in December of first-degree murder in the 2020 killing of 30-year-old Caleb Solberg, of Moorhead, the Des Moines Register reported.

Investigators have said the men were eating and drinking at a Moorhead bar the night of Dec. 17, 2020, when Erlbacher put mayonnaise on Solberg’s food. A fist fight between the two men ensued, and Erlbacher left in his truck, making threats to hurt Solberg and others. The threats included calls to Solberg’s half-brother, Craig Pryor, whom he later confronted and whose vehicle he rammed with his truck.

Prosecutors say later that night, Erlbacher spotted Solberg outside a café in nearby Pisgah and ran him down with his truck. He doubled back and ran over Solberg twice more to make sure Solberg was dead, officials said, and called Pryor to say he had just killed his brother.

Seriously, WTF?

Ever Take Out a Billboard to Roast a Friend Over Fishing Expertise?

Some people take out advertising to tell people about their restaurant. Others might take out billboard advertising to tell people about their car dealership. In Minnesota, one guy took out a billboard to tell people about how his friend sucks at fishing:

BRAINERD, Minn. (WCCO) — If you’ve been to Brainerd lately, you might have spotted a doozy of a billboard along Highway 371.

It reads “This is Troy. Troy sucks at fishing.”

It even gives an email for you to send him a little smack talk.

So what’s the story behind it?

Turns out, this trashing is a long standing tradition with his fishing friends.

“He’s been less than successful in previous trips,” friend David Vee said.

I have to ask, just how cheap is billboard advertising anyway?

Historic Monument or Some Rich Guys Mega-Yaucht? Sorry History, but…

Now why would something of historical importance get in the way of some billionaire’s mega-yacht?

The Dutch port city of Rotterdam is planning on dismantling its historic De Hef bridge to allow the passage of a superyacht owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the local council said on Wednesday.

Bezos, one of the richest men in the world, commissioned the building of the three-mast yacht, which tops out at 40 meters (130 feet) high, for the price of €430 million ($485 million) at the Alblasserdam shipyard near Rotterdam.

The bridge, also known as the Koningshaven Bridge, is not big enough to let the boat through and so will be dismantled, with Bezos himself footing the bill for the work.

The decision has received criticism. Some locals were angry since the council had promised it would not dismantle the bridge again after major renovations in 2017.

The De Hef bridge was built in 1878 and then rebuilt after suffering significant damage during World War II. Plans to demolish the bridge in 1993 were discarded following pushback from residents.

“We don’t have many historic buildings in Rotterdam. Many monuments were lost during the war, and we are very fond of this bridge,” Ton Wesselink, president of the Historical Society of Rotterdam, told the EFE news agency.

“It was restored a few years ago, and they promised not to touch it again, so it’s not clear why now, just like that, because a boat wants to pass through, we have to dismantle it. There’s always a risk that it could be damaged,” he added.

OK, how is it possible that the people building that ship didn’t know it wouldn’t fit through that area until the last minute? Everything about that seems… badly planned to me.

If You Can Blow 6 Times the Legal BAC Limit, You’ve Had Enough to Drink

Some people definitely drink more than others. One woman in Australia got pulled over and was found to be 6 times the legal limit:

A woman “driving erratically” in Sydney’s south has been charged with high-range drink driving after allegedly blowing six times the legal limit.

An off-duty police officer saw a silver Holden Astra sedan travelling on Alfords Point Road at Illawong just after 1.40pm yesterday.

Officers from Bankstown Highway Patrol stopped the car on Orient Street, Padstow and spoke with the driver.

This analysis allegedly returned a reading of 0.324 – over six times the legal limit.

A BAC of 0.324 has got to be a high score of something, right? I mean, a fatal amount is, what? 0.4? Yeesh!

Good: Limiting Your Kids Screen Time. Bad: By Shutting the Whole City’s Internet Down

A French man had apparently become worried that his kid spends too much time on the Internet. So, he devised a plan to cut off the Internet at certain times in the evening. As it turns out, his cunning plan worked a little too well as the whole city suddenly experienced the outage as well:

In case you haven’t noticed, kids these days just do not know how to moderate their screen time. So, in a desperate bid to get his children offline, some guy in France apparently blitzed his entire town’s internet connection—by accident, that is. He now faces up to six months in prison for the outage.

A report from the outlet France Bleu says the unnamed dad tried to use a multi-wave band jammer to temporarily cut off the internet connection at his residence in the town of Messanges. Jammers, which are illegal in France (and also in the U.S.), work by interfering with telecommunication signals, thus stifling connections. Despite their illegality, people still get arrested for using them, pretty much all the time.

In this case, the dad in question deployed the device in the hopes of prying his social-media-addicted children away from the grips of their devices. When later questioned by a government official, the man apparently admitted that he only wanted to cut off the connectivity to his house at night, between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.—probably so his kids would put the phones down and just go to bed already.

The man now faces up to six months in jail and a fine of 30,000 euros. Ouch. There’s gotta be an easier way to unplug than this, folks.


When Gun Manufacturer’s Actively Target Children to Sell Guns

America has a gun problem. How bad is it? Apparently, manufacturer’s are making and selling weapons specifically tailored to children:

Four years ago this week, in one of the deadliest mass shootings in memory, 17 people were shot and killed by a 19-year-old gunman at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The tragedy spurred a revitalized gun reform movement led by a new generation, with youth coalitions like March For Our Lives calling for common-sense gun legislation. Still, school shootings continue to rise: Between August and December 2021, there were 136 instances of gunfire on school grounds, the highest rate in a 5-month period since the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety began tracking it in 2013. And 70% of school shooters, many of whom have easy home access to weapons, are under the age of 18.

Given this backdrop of ever-increasing gun violence, and especially by young perpetrators, the release of a new rifle directly marketed to kids has astonished even gun-reform experts who have followed the industry’s aggressive targeting of children for years. They say this new firearm, overtly advertised as a kids’ version of the AR-15—the style of rifle used in 11 of the 12 most high-profile mass shootings, including Sandy Hook and Las Vegas—is the most brazen example of such targeted firearms marketing they’ve ever seen. The move is part of a trend by an unstable gun industry in a volatile market to target new potential consumers, but it’s also motivated by a rise of political extremism.

Last month, the JR-15, or Junior 15, debuted at the SHOT Show, billed as the nation’s largest annual trade show for the sport shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry. The event is organized by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a firearms industry trade association. The rifle is manufactured by WEE1 Tactical, an offshoot of Schmid Tool and Engineering, which has sold AR-15 components for 30 years. A November press release from WEE1 specifically notes the JR-15’s appeal to children: “Our vision is to develop a line of shooting platforms that will safely help adults introduce children to the shooting sports,” it reads. To do that, it’s built a gun whose “ergonomics are geared towards children”: it’s lighter than an adult version, at 2.2 pounds, 20% smaller, and with a patented safety mechanism, not standard on AR-15s, which needs to be pulled out “with some force” and rotated before it can fire. Slight tweaks aside, the company boasts that it “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.”

You know, those bullet proof vests for kids isn’t sounding like such a crazy idea after all.

The Unemployment Insurance Fraud Gets Harder to Hide When the Maserati SUV Gets Driven Around

Apparently, driving a Maserati SUV will get you attention. Especially when you are claiming unemployment insurance fraudulently:

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Department of Justice (DOJ) reports that Jamie Johnson, 36, of Albany pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to commit mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. They said she fraudulently received $701,441 in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits.

“Unemployment insurance fraud undermines the integrity of a vital government safety net, can affect victims’ ability to file legitimate claims, and puts additional strain on already struggling New York State families,” wrote New York State Inspector General Lucy Lang in a statement.

As part of the plea, Johnson admitted to filing false UI applications on the state’s Department of Labor website. She admitted to using the identities and information of others, and DOJ said she drove a Maserati SUV to local banks to withdraw cash using debit cards for benefit accounts.

Just a bit too obvious methinks.

The Spelling Manor Can Be Yours for the Low Low Price of $165 Million

When 56,000 square feet for a building is not an exaggeration:

The White House-sized Los Angeles megamansion known as the Spelling Manor has splashed back onto the market for $165 million, over 25% more than it sold for in 2019.

Created in 1990 for late TV producer Aaron Spelling—whose shows included “Charlie’s Angels” and “Beverly Hills, 90210”—and his wife, Candy, the palatial French Chateau-inspired home sits on more than 4.5 acres in the city’s affluent Holmby Hills neighborhood. It clocks in at more than 56,000 square feet, and “offers every amenity imaginable, from bowling alleys to beauty salons, rolling lawns to rose gardens, a legendary library to professional screening room,” according to Friday’s listing with Jeff Hyland and Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland.

The 14-bedroom, 27-bathroom residence last sold in 2019 after four years on the market. The $120 million sale set a record at the time for the priciest property in Los Angeles, according to reports. That number was smashed only months later, and again two years ago when Jeff Bezos bought David Geffen’s Beverly Hills mansion for $165 million.

British heiress Petra Ecclestone, the daughter of Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone, sold the property in 2019, for a $80 million discount from its original asking price. It was sold to an unidentified Saudi Arabian buyer, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Ms. Ecclestone oversaw a massive renovation with Gavin Brodin, an L.A.-based designer-builder, who employed more than 500 workers, according to The Wall Street Journal. She created a beauty salon in the room where Ms. Spelling housed her enormous china doll collection, but Ms. Ecclestone preserved Aaron Spelling’s film editing room behind the screen of the movie theater, complete with his hand-written notes.

The perfect starter mansion for the young budding billionaire in your family!

Change One Word By Accident, Invalid Baptism?

An Arizona priest is apparently baptizing people wrong. Your, uh, putting water on someone’s forehead. How do you screw this up? Apparently, it’s a technicality:

A priest in Arizona resigned after he incorrectly performed baptisms for decades, possibly derailing the rite for thousands of people.

The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix on its website confirmed Andres Arango used the words “we baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” instead of the correct phrase “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” in English and Spanish.

The diocese explained that the single incorrect word matters for worshippers because “it is not the community that baptizes a person and incorporates them into the Church of Christ; rather, it is Christ, and Christ alone, who presides at all sacraments.”

“Therefore, it is Christ who baptizes,” the diocese said. “If you were baptized using the wrong words, that means your baptism is invalid, and you are not baptized.”

For Catholic worshippers, a baptism typically involves people, usually infants, having water poured on their heads during a religious ceremony.

I’m just visualizing this here. “Wait, I’m not supposed to be in hell! I’ve been a devout Catholic my whole life!”, “Well, apparently, your pastor screwed up one word during your baptism when you were an infant and missed it by one word. As a result, you’ve been living your whole life as a lie without even knowing it. Sorry about that, but please make your way to the torture chair over there where your torture can begin.” Seriously, WTF?

Don’t Drink and Drive – Especially if You Are the Mailman While on the Job

Who knew that both drinking on the job and drinking in driving could be hazardous to your employment?

MADISON, Wis. — Madison police arrested a mailman Thursday who they said was driving drunk in uniform.

Officers pulled the man’s truck over just before 4:30 p.m. in the 1900 block of Atwood Avenue. Police said the man was seen stumbling and falling over in a nearby apartment building.

The man’s head was reportedly slumped down when officers pulled him over, and he slurred his speech and smelled of alcohol.

Police said the man failed field sobriety tests and told officers he was intoxicated.

I’ve heard of jobs driving people to drinking, but this is ridiculous.

The Cables Were Too Short

Ever decorate your house with new decorations only to discover that the cables are too short? Imagine that, but on the scale of the wiring for an entire Ferry:

Two new CalMac ferries being built at Ferguson shipyard face further delays because hundreds of electrical cables have been wrongly installed.

Between 400 and 900 wires, some of them more than 100m (109 yds) long, will have to be stripped out and replaced.

The error happened during construction of the first ship, Glen Sannox, before Ferguson Marine Engineering went into administration and was nationalised.

The current management said remedial work would affect delivery and costs.

The two ferries are already four years later and will cost more than double the £97m contract price agreed with the yard in Port Glasgow.

In an update to MSPs, the now nationalised firm said the defective cables were installed by contractors working for Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd before it went into administration in August 2019.

The cables ends had been left coiled up, ready for connection to equipment, but they have only recently been unwound and found to be too short.

A survey has revealed that at least 400 cables – and possibly as many as 939 – have problems, with management believing the quickest solution is to replace them completely.

The update warns: “At present it is not possible to determine the impact on schedule and cost.”

“… and I’ll just run this cable around the corner and- oops. Huh, why is this not giving me any more slack? … uh oh…”

The Refund Check Seems a Bit High

Someone in Britain had some great news. Apparently, after being overcharged on her bills, she got a refund. Even better news is the fact that the refund was, well, let’s just say you can probably buy a small country with that kind of change:

Thank you for our compensation payment @Northpowergrid
for the several days we were without power following #stormarwen Before I bank the cheque however, are you 100% certain you can afford this? #trillionpounds

For those that can’t see it at first, yes, that is a refund check for £2,324,252,080,110.

We’ll let the computer handle it. It’s not like they make mistakes, right?

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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