Darren’s Daily Dose of Weird News: January 20, 2011

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NEW NEWS…

The older man cruising along Interstate 95 in Connecticut could have been just another traveler – except that he was in an electric wheelchair, in the breakdown lane, while cars and trucks barreled along a few yards away.  The mystery of the unidentified man in the cozy blue coat and sunglasses is leaving some chuckling, including witnesses who videotaped his unorthodox trip along the breakdown lane and off an exit in Fairfield.  Connecticut State Police say their troopers didn’t encounter the intrepid traveler, but surely would have warned him about what vehicles are – and aren’t – allowed on the highway.  ***MARLAR: And that the minimum highway speed limit is 45mph.

An Ohio zoo is trying to round up runaway prairie dogs and is asking its neighbors for help.  The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said 11 of the critters wriggled their way out of temporary quarters and so far only four have been recovered.  Assistant Curator Jeremy Carpenter says in a statement there’s no reason to believe the animals have left zoo property. But he says nearby residents are being asked to watch for prairie dogs, just in case.  ***MARLAR: Where is Bill Murray when you need him?

Police in Delaware say a man broke into a house, got drunk and couldn’t make his way back outside – so he called 911 for help.  New Castle County police say 44-year-old John Finch was trapped in the home in part because he’d broken into it before, back in April. That led the homeowner to change the locks so that a key was required – even inside.  Police say no one was home when Finch broke in again, through a rear window. He stayed for a few days, drinking three bottles of gin and two bottles of whiskey. When he tried to leave, he was too drunk to climb back out of the window and called 911. Finch now faces charges in both break-ins. ***MARLAR: And wouldn’t you know it, he’s now staying in a place that also requires a key to get in and out of.

In a remarkable turnabout, federal health officials say many Americans are now getting too much fluoride because of its presence not just in drinking water but in toothpaste, mouthwash and other products, and it’s causing splotches on children’s teeth and perhaps more serious problems.  ***MARLAR: This is exactly why I stopped brushing my teeth back in 1996.

RETRO NEWS: FORMERLY NEW, NOW NOT NEW, BUT STILL ENTERTAINING…

Feeling cranky? Well, here’s some news to cheer you up. A new study says that being grouchy boosts your brain. Scientists in Australia have found that ill tempered folks tend to concentrate more on what’s going on around them, and are more questioning of others giving them better memories and sharper minds. In comparison, happy people are more likely to take mental shortcuts and be gullible, resulting in less brainpower.  ***MARLAR: So yes, Oscar the Grouch is in Mensa.  And I’m not.

In Jacksonville, Florida, Ashley Saks left Roxy, her 2-year-old Basset Hound, with a friend while she went out of town. She gave specific instructions to lock Roxy up if her friend had to leave because the dog hated being alone. The friend, however, making a run to a hardware store, took the dog with her and allowed her to roam about the store. Shortly afterwards, the dog got very, very sick. So they took Roxy to the Vet and were astonished and amazed by the X-rays showing the pooch had eaten about 130 nails! ***MARLAR: Which made it a lot of fun when playing fetch with magnets.

TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS!!!  In Prior Lake, Minnesota, Robert and Roberta Masters have been arrested and charged with a series of mailbox explosions over last summer. Police say the explosions were actually carried out by seven teenagers who had been given pipe bomb supplies by the couple. According to the report, Mr. Masters bought black powder for the kids and had said it “would be a good educational tool for them to build pipe bombs.” Mrs. Masters allegedly encouraged the teens to learn on the Internet how to make pipe bombs because it would be “constructive.” If it makes you feel any better she did say she had told them to “be careful!”  ***MARLAR: Now Mr. and Mrs. Masters will get a good education on what it’s like to spend some time in jail.  It’s okay though, because it’ll be “constructive” – and they were told to “be careful.”

Hannibal the frog, like all frogs, set out to return during mating season to the very place his life began. But unlike some frogs, Hannibal had the daunting task of trying to return to the Aquarium of the Lakes in Cumbria, in the UK, a quarter of a mile away. Now, here’s where the game “Frogger” comes in… Hannibal, who earlier in the year was set free into the wild, successfully made the journey back to his artificial pond at the aquarium in time for mating season, but it wasn’t easy. In the process he had to cross a busy street, then perfectly time his hops across the aquarium’s electric sliding doors, climb up two flights of stairs, sneak by two otters, and then finally go through two other sections of the aquarium before making it to the pond. The aquarium had taken Hannibal, along with 100 other frogs, to a natural pond, expecting him to settle into his new surroundings. They will now keep him at the aquarium fearing he’ll try another daring escapade.  ***MARLAR: I’m surprised he didn’t croak.

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