Pizza for Pope Francis; teetering buses; and, flushing fortunes…

March 25th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Pope Francis happened to mention recently that he missed being able to pop out for an anonymous pizza. Cue Enzo Cacialli, a Naples pizza-maker who decided to address the problem by hand-delivering a specially made Naples-style pizza with ‘Il Papa’ spelt out on top in dough as the Popemobile passed him by. Pope Francis was apparently hungry - he took the pizza and, says Cacialli, said thank you (you can see a video of it on CNN).

• A realistic replica of a bus has been unveiled teetering over the edge of a Hong Kong hotel’s roof in a tribute to the 1969 film, The Italian Job. The installation by artist Richard Wilson, Hang On a Minute Lads, I’ve Got a Great Idea, is based on the last line and shot of the film and has been placed on Peninsula Hotel’s seventh floor terrace as part of the Art Basel international art show. Installed earlier this month, it will remain on the hotel until 8th April.

Fortunes are being flushed down the toilet, according to scientists who say sifting sewage has revealed gold, silver and platinum in amounts which would normally be deemed commercially viable by prospectors. Kathleen Smith, of the US Geological Survey, told The Guardian that extracting metals from waste could also reduce the release of harmless metals like lead into the environment. The report also referenced an earlier Arizona State University study which found a city of a million inhabitants flushed about $US13 million worth of precious metals down toilets and sewer drains every year.

Songs that make you happy; no hiding in Ikea; and, Pi Day marked…

March 18th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

What songs make you happy? The UN is looking for people to answer that question as it compiles “the world’s happiest playlist” which will be revealed on Friday, 20th March - officially designated as the International Day of Happiness. The #HappySoundsLike campaign this week with fans able to post the songs that make them happiest on social media bearing the hashtag #HappySoundsLike. The day was established in 2012 in acknowledgement that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal”. For more, see
www.happysoundslike.com/en/index.html.

In the Netherlands, furniture giant Ikea has apparently had to take the step of banning people from playing hide-and-seek after safety concerns. Tens of thousands of people had reportedly signed up to play the games in stores in Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Utrecht after the game was played at a store in Belgium last summer. The game organisers are now apparently looking for a new location for the games.

People all around the world celebrated Pi Day on 14th March - the day when the date (provided you use the month then day format) can be written 3/14/15 - the first five figures of the mathematical figure known as Pi (3.1415). The date only happens once every century and hardcore fans, such as staff at the Museum of Mathematics in New York City, took it a step further, celebrating the day at exactly 9.26am - 3.1415926 (or 9.26.53am if you add the next two figures of Pi - .141592653). Interestingly, Pi has been calculated to more than a trillion digits.

‘Spocking’ hits Canada; write an essay and win an inn; and, Cat Island…

March 11th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Leonard Nimoy, most famous for his role as Mr Spock in Star Trek, passed away recently. To mark the occasion, Canadians have been transforming the face of former Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier which appears on their $5 banknotes, into that of Mr Spock’s. The ‘Spocking’ trend, which has reportedly taken place for years but apparently increased after Mr Nimoy’s death late last month, has led authorities to ask citizens to kindly stop their scribbling, saying that while it wasn’t illegal, it was inappropriate to deface the notes.

It’s a novel way of passing on a property. The owner of an historic country inn in the US state of Maine is giving the 210-year-old property away to the winner of an essay contest she’s running. Janice Sage, the owner of the Centre Lovell Inn and Restaurant - a property valued at about $US900,000, has reportedly asked people interested in owning the business to submit a 200 word essay in which they can convey their qualifications and experience. Essay submissions cost $US125 and Ms Sage hopes to get as many as 7,500 submissions from around the globe by 17th May (a figure which would see the price of the property well covered). The idea isn’t new. Ms Sage apparently acquired the property in an essay contest 22 years ago.

And, of course, we can’t finish without a mention of Japan’s now famous ‘Cat Island’. Aoshima, a tiny remote island in southern Japan, has been over-run with felines after they were introduced a while back to take care of the mice that plagued local fishermen. Only problem is the mile long island’s 120 cats now outnumber humans by a factor of six. Locals have apparently started taking some steps to ensure the population doesn’t grow any more with reports at least 10 of the cats have now been neutered. There’s a great gallery of images on The Atlantic website.

Selling snow; celebrating ninjas; and, a record bouquet-catcher…

February 25th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Making the most of the snow in his front yard, a man in Massachusetts in the US has reportedly started a new service selling and then shipping snow out to people who live in warmer areas. Kyle Waring, of the town of Manchester-by-the-Sea near Boston, launched ShipSnowYo.com earlier this winter. Having experimented with how much to send (and ensure it doesn’t melt), he now sells the snow in range of packages, starting at $US19.99 for a 16.9 oz bottle.

Silent but deadly. This week saw people in some parts of Japan celebrate Ninja Day, a celebration of the history of the men in black. The cities of Iga and Koka are both apparently historic ninja strongholds and in celebration of the day on 22nd February, local tourist officials wore ninja costumes to work and handed out paper ninja stars.

Back in the US and a woman in Utah is claiming a new world record for catching bridal bouquets - having caught 46 since 1996. Jamie Jackson, of Salt Lake City, reportedly says she has documentation to prove her catching streak - set while attending an estimated 80 to 100 weddings - which would smash the current record of 11 set in 2004. Jackson has applied to Guinness World Records for official recognition.

A postie with skills in “dodging penguins” required; odd Victorian names; and spitting a pip in Chinchilla…

February 18th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Looking for a colder ‘posting’ and don’t mind sharing your island with 2,000 gentoo penguins? The UK Antarctic Heritage Trust is looking for people of any nationality to make up the four staff required to run the post office at Port Lockroy on the Antarctic island of Goudier for five months over the Antarctic summer. The post office handles about 70,000 items of mail during the summer period when as many as 18,000 visitors arrive for a brief stop on ships. Among the qualities the successful applicants need is the ability to carry “a big heavy box over slippery rocks and slushy snow whilst dodging penguins”. Living conditions, meanwhile, are said to be “comfortable though basic with no mains power, heat or water, and limited communications”. You can apply at www.ukaht.org.

Reckon some of the names celebrities give their children today are odd? Try some of these from the Victorian era. London-based genealogy firm Fraser & Fraser have reportedly released a list of names they’ve come across on Victorian-era documents and they include some that would now be seen as, er, rather odd. Try ‘Friendless’ Baxter, ‘Time of’ Day and ‘Zebra’ Lynes. Then there’s ‘Windsor’ Castle (a girl), ‘Mineral’ Waters, ‘One Too Many’ Gouldstone and the rather long-winded Ann Bertha Cecilia Diana Emily Fanny Gertrude Hypatia Iug Jane Kate Louisa Maud Nora Orphelia Quince Rebecca Starkey Teresa Ulysis Venus Winifred Xenophen Yetty Zeus Pepper - with one name for each letter of the alphabet.

Melon skiing, ‘melon bungy’ and a melon ironman and iron woman were among the events held at the ‘melon capital’ of Australia, the Queensland town of Chinchilla, during its biennial melon festival earlier this month. The festival, which it’s estimated more than 15,000 people attended, also ran ‘pip spitting’ contests and reportedly used about 20 tonnes of melons.

Now that’s Monopoly money!; bullet-proof clothing; Win of the Week; and, now we cross live to the hamburger in Iceland…

February 4th, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Every Monopoly player has dreamed of it at some stage (well, at least they used to - rising inflation has meant a $500 note isn’t worth what it once was!) To celebrate the game’s 80th anniversary, the French arm of manufacturer Hasbro is reportedly releasing some copies of the game with real Euros in place of the usual Monopoly money. In one game every note will reportedly be replaced - adding up to $US23,268 - while 79 others will contain smaller amounts.

It’s a perhaps sad sign of the times that a store has opened in The Netherlands’ town of Eindhoven which sells “fashionable” bullet-proof clothing. Along with the classic bullet-proof vest, the stock reportedly includes suits, leather jackets and ties. The clothes are apparently aimed at people who might feel at risk in their jobs, such as jewellers and petrol station staff, and aren’t supposed to appeal to criminals. Cost may be an issue, however - the cheapest item was reportedly priced at $2,700.

Win of the Week (a new regular feature of StrangeSights): Congrats to “competitive eater” Patrick Bertoletti who won the 23rd annual Wing Bowl in Philadelphia in the US by eating 444 chicken wings in 30 minutes, blowing away the previous record of 363.

More than five years after McDonalds closed the doors on its last store in Iceland, a cheeseburger and fries purchased at the store have gone on display at a Reykjavik hostel. And it doesn’t look that changed - you can see for yourselves. The burger and fries - which was bought on 31st October, 2009 - has a dedicated webcam so people can watch it ever so slowly decay.

So, a dog catches the bus…; print-a-car; and, “kiss and ride”…

January 21st, 2015 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

It may sound like an urban myth but a dog in Seattle has apparently taken to riding city buses without its owner. Eclipse, a black Labrador, has reportedly been using a bus to get to a dog park - a ride of about four stops. Transport authorities and bus travellers have confirmed the story with one saying the dog wagged its tail when it reached the stop where the dog park is. The dog’s owner, Jeff Young, told a local TV station he’s happy with the arrangement. “We get separated. She gets on the bus without me, and I catch up with her at the dog park,” he said.

A US company has produced a two seat car on a 3D printer and intends putting the plans up for sale later this year. Local Motors says it takes 44 hours to print the car’s frame, panels and some interior features out of a carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (they intend lowering the print time to 24 hours) which is then outfitted with a battery, motor, wiring and suspension from a Renault car. The ‘Strati’ will reportedly sell for between $US18,000 and $US30,000.

A “Kiss and Ride” sign has reportedly been installed at a railway station in the UK in a bid to keep traffic moving when people are getting dropped off. The sign - located at Preston Station in Lancashire - has apparently gone viral as people post it on social media with some wags dubbing the rather drab station ‘The new Paris’. It’s apparently not the first time such signs have been used - they are said to be a feature at several stations and even airports in Europe.

A present for someone who has everything; Gandalf for president; and no more phones…

December 17th, 2014 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Looking for the perfect Christmas present for someone who has everything? How about a box of nothing? The creators of a website - You Need Nothing - have been selling “A Box of Nothing” for prices ranging up to €199 (for a deluxe version). Proceeds from the sale of the boxes are donated to Oxfam, according to the website. Sadly, the 350 boxes priced at just €34 are already sold out but it is possible to still snare one of 10 deluxe versions when we checked. The box was reportedly created by a group of designers tying to encourage a philanthropic spirit at Christmas.

Darth Vader unsuccessfully ran for president in Ukraine and now there’s a call for Gandalf, a wizard from Lord of the Rings, to step up to the plate in Belarus at next year’s elections. The Belarus, My Country opposition group has reportedly adopted ‘Gandalf for President’ as its campaign slogan but, in acknowledgement that Gandalf himself may be hard to pin down, they’re looking for a local candidate to fill the post who may exhibit similar qualities of wisdom and leadership. Belarus has been under the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko for 20 years.

An Italian priest, tired of having people talking on their mobile phones during mass and even funerals, has reportedly resorted to installing a jamming device in his church. Father Michele Madonna, who says he obtained the permission of police before installing the device, says that while people used to switch off their phone in embarrassment when it rang, now they simply cup their hand around the receiver and carry on talking.

World’s smallest Bible?; a wing with your prayer?; and, there can be only one Kim Jong-un…

December 12th, 2014 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

A New Testament reportedly measuring less than five millimetres wide has laid a claim to being the world’s smallest Bible. Created by the Jerusalem Nano Bible company, the Bible contains all 27 books of the New Testament with each letter measuring just 0.18 microns wide and can, as a result, only be read using a microscope. The Bible, which is being marketed as an ornament or a piece of jewellery - it can be hung on a necklace, for example - is written in the original Greek text. The Israel-based company says the Bible is now being considered by Guinness World Records for the record of “world’s smallest Bible”.

On a wing and a prayer - or in this case, hot wings with your prayers. Alabama-based Riverchase United Methodist Church plans to launch a new worship service at Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar this weekend as part of an attempt to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally come to church. “We hope it’s going to be a more inviting atmosphere,” Rev Wesley Savage told AL.com. People will be encouraged to stay for lunch after the short morning service (but no beer will be served as part of the service itself).

Authorities in North Korea have ordered people who have the same name as leader Kim Jong-un to change it, according to reports from South Korea. TV station KBS reported that people who share the name must not only stop using it but have it officially changed while no newborns can be given it. The move follows similar bans on the use of the names of Kim Jong-un’s father, King Jong-il, and grandfather, Kim Il-sung. While there will be no-one in the north with the name, that isn’t the case in the south, where the Wall Street Journal says it’s relatively popular.

Richard III raises questions over royal lines; house sale a roller-coaster ride; and, a human waste-powered bus…

December 3rd, 2014 by www.sightmagazine.com.au

Researchers at the University of Leicester studying a skeleton they are 99.999 per cent sure is that of King Richard III have unearthed genetic information which shows breaks in the male line between Richard and his later male relatives. Leader of the international team studying the body - found under a car park in Leicester, Dr Turi King, says that their study showed there wasn’t a link between Richard, who died in 1485, and relatives of his wider family who are alive today. “So doing the Y chromosome work, I found that there wasn’t a link between Richard III and the male line relatives who are alive today. So clearly…the DNA is telling us that there has been a non-paternity or break in that male line chain between the 5th Duke of Beaufort, who is a common male line ancestor, and Richard III…” The researchers say the break could raise questions about the legitimacy of the claims to the throne of both the Houses of Lancaster and York. Another of the researchers, history professor Kevin Schürer, says further investigations are needed to determine where the break or breaks might be. While it’s been speculated that the find could raise a question-mark over the legitimacy of Queen Elizabeth II’s claim to the throne, Professor Schürer told English newspapers: “We are not in any way indicating that Her Majesty should not be on the throne.”

Failing to attract a buyer for his home, a man selling his house in The Netherlands’ town of Ermelo has apparently decided to make viewing his home an experience people won’t quickly forget by installing a mini roller coaster to show them around. A promotional video shows the one person carts taking prospective buyers through the property’s various rooms and grounds with a few exciting twists and drops along the way. That’s one way to make an impact - and it certainly has with the number of online views of the video topping 1.5 million after just one day.

• Back in the UK and a bus powered by food waste and human excrement has gone into service in the country’s south-west. The 40 seat “Bio-Bus” reportedly runs on biomethane gas generated through a process involving human and food waste and produces less emissions than traditional diesel engines. It will run between Bath and Bristol Airport. GENeco, the company which run the Bristol sewage treatment works where the gas is generated, is also injecting the gas into the UK’s national network.