Adopted girl dedicates herself to finding forever homes for senior dogs

If this story doesn’t make you feel something, go immediately to the ER for tests, because somehow, you’re still alive despite not missing a heart.

For years, Meena Kumar has run a pet sitting service, Pet Fairy.

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That’s cool. Not crazy uncommon or anything, but cool.

Here’s the twist: Meena was adopted, herself, so getting senior dogs adopted is a passion of hers, except she couldn’t volunteer at the shelter until she was 17, and she started doing this when she was 12.

What were you and I doing when we were 12? Yeah. Not this kinda thing.

And now she’s raised $14,000 to get that done. Is not a typo. We’re not talking four hundred, or fourteen hundred. Fourteen grand is enough to buy one Chevrolet Spark or ten classic Yugos plus a couple extra transmissions, because you’re gonna need those. Yugos tend not to go.

For her hard work, Meena is getting national press: Today.com, CNN, and now this blog, and it’s a miracle I’m writing about her, because there are Florida Man stories out the wazoo this week, like the people trapped in an elevator. Mechanical problems? No. Methed up idiot threatening people? No. An alligator was waiting to ambush them. Maybe the alligator figured out that this was a magic metal machine. Sit here, wait for the ding, and boom, like a fridge, fresh meat appears.

Get on with your bad self, Brainy Alligator.

So on this random Thursday, when we typically celebrate weird news, it’s nice to spotlight hard work and kindness.

Thank you, Meena–because this is the kind of story we need during the insanity that is 2020.

Washington Man tries to outdo Florida Man, almost succeeds

As a former journalist, I still love the news. If you cut me, I bleed newsprint.

Weird news is always interesting to read, with human beings and animals constantly finding new and unique ways of getting global attention. Usually for plumbing the depths of stupidity.

Nothing illustrates the why and how of weird news like Florida Man stories, named after newspaper headlines that start with “Florida man” and end with stuff like “snorts meth and robs 7-Eleven wearing nothing but My Little Pony T-shirt,” then in the story you find out after he ran off from the gas station, he hid from the cops in a nearby pond and was eaten by a one-eyed alligator who lost the eye in a famous battle with a drunken stripper back in 1985.

You think I’m exaggerating and mixing in plot elements from Elmore Leonard and Carl Hiaasen novels. But I’m not. Go ahead, google “Florida Man” and read a few.

So it’s always fun when my medium-sized, square state tries to compete with Florida Man.

Doesn’t happen often. Florida Man is powerful, and my state is a great place to live.

But it happened recently.

Burglary suspect leaves thank-you note, tries to swim away from cops

That’s one take on the story, a good, straight headline.

Here’s why I like it, and also why it doesn’t quite meet Florida Man standards.

You only need a single element for a story to be news. In this case, a man burglarized a home.

That’s it. There’s conflict there, some kind of backstory–is he stealing things for drug money or is that home a specific target? There’s also suspense about the outcome–will the cops catch him?

The second element is the thank you note, which lets this story go viral. Who leaves a thank-you note? Was it done out of kindness, or did the burglar know the victim? Are we talking a 40-year-old professional criminal starting to feel remorse or a 9-year-old budding psychopath who’s watched too many episodes of HANNIBAL?

Our story’s third element adds value. He doesn’t run from the cops, or drive off to start a car chase. He tries to out-swim the cops. Funny to picture and if there’s video footage, that’ll go viral, too.

But it’s missing a fourth element, the special sauce of Florida Man stories: gonzo nuttery.

How would this story end if it happened in Florida?

That’s the fun part. He would have jumped into that canal and been eaten by an alligator, sucked into a bottomless sinkhole, or swim all the way to the Cayman Islands.

That fourth element can’t do all the work. It needs a character in conflict, a mystery about motives, and a head-scratching gesture. You need those three foundations for your final Florida Man Cherry on the Top of this Ice Cream Sundae of Madness.

 

The rise of viral video weirdness

A group of powerful trends have gathered together and magnified their power–like Voltron except the robot beast is made of Karens–to create today’s tsunami of insanity captured on film.

The first trend? Everybody has a supercomputer in their pocket, connected to the Series of Tubes, with a built-in video camera and microphone. Within seconds, they can push buttons and bear witness to Darwin Award winners, a Florida Man doing Florida Man things, or a doggo being cute.

The second trend? Different tech platforms and social media channels allowing the cross-posting of videos. I can see TikTok videos on Twitter, embed Twitter videos on WordPress and throw YouTube stuff on Facebook.

The third trend is the COVID 19 global pandemic, which has given us 6,943 videos of Karens refusing to wear masks and acting like loons.

I’ll end on a serious note. Sure, smart phones today give all of us the power to be a roaming TV studio, and you can use that power to shoot videos of your dog playing with a baby deer. You can also use your phone to get footage that may change the national and global debate about police violence, or whether the people of Hong Kong will still have democracy and freedom.

Anybody can be a citizen journalist now. And that changes things forever.

Why we’re desperate today for a different flavor of weird news

Typically, the weird news that goes viral is something like this: Kangaroo captured after hopping through Fort Lauderdale streets

You have the typical ingredients–(a) Florida and (b) police–with a new twist: (c) an unusual wild animal instead of a criminal idiot. Yet I don’t see the same fervor for stories like this today.

Instead, what seems to go more viral are stories like this one.

Beautiful, right?

This is my theory: when times are good, we seek the opposite when it comes to news and entertainment.

The economy is roaring? Give us all kinds of zombie movies and Mad Max apocalyptic stuff.

Whenever times are bad–and they’re truly bad right now with the COVID pandemic and economic crash–I believe people seek feel-good stories like the piano player. Because we don’t have to search hard for weird and wacky news. You can turn on CNN or fire up Twitter and have your mind blown by the hourly nuttiness, often coming straight from the White House from the tweeting fingers of the man who possesses the codes to Earth’s largest nuclear arsenal.

So yes, give us a chimp helping a human.

And show us a bird who has different dances for each ringtone.

People need this sort of thing right now, a bit of humor or a dose of kindness.

I’m happy to see more of this style of weird news get attention and traction. It’s a good switch. We’ve had enough Florida Man nuttiness to last us decades.

 

 

Rampaging prairie dogs invade tiny Nebraskan town–is South Dakota next to fall?

Now, you might think I made up that headline, or stole it from The Onion.

No.

This isn’t a cheeky story written as clickbait by an overworked intern with $149,291 in student loans to pay off and zero job prospects BECAUSE OF THE FRIGGING APOCALYPSE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

We’re talking about a real story, printed in all sorts of Papers of News, because the almighty Associated Press wrote it. Here’s the link: ‘They’re out of control’: Prairie dogs threatening western Nebraska towns, officials say

It’s crazy short, so here’s the text:

Officials in Nebraska’s Panhandle are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for help and are exploring other options to control what they say is an encroaching prairie dog problem in the region.

The Cheyenne County Board commissioners said Monday during a meeting that the animals are threatening to overrun the towns of Lodgepole, Sidney and Potter if more is not done to control their numbers, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald reported.

Commissioner Philip Sanders said the animals caused nearly $3,000 in damage last year to 2,600 acres in the county. The animals, he said, are already inside Lodgepole, a village of about 300 people.

“I’m willing to take any help that we can get at this point, because I feel like we’ve let Lodgepole down,” Sanders said. “We’re going to let other communities down. We can’t do this any longer. … I don’t want to eradicate (prairie dogs). God put them here for a reason. I get it, but they’re out of control.”

There is only one USDA wildlife specialist to help control animal populations — including coyotes, porcupines and raccoons. The county wants the USDA to hire additional staff, but the agency says there’s no money for it. Now, the county is looking at private-sector help and even volunteers from the community to help control the prairie dog population.

Prairie dogs are native to Nebraska and live in colonies that create vast underground tunnels. They are considered important to the region’s ecological balance, but many people view them as pests that destroy valuable grassland and pose a danger to cattle that can step in prairie dog holes and break legs.

Oh, this is beautiful. It’s the setup for a horror movie: (1) a tiny town of 300 people that’s ten miles west of nowhere; (2) rampaging animals that have tunneled inside and could be anywhere; and (3) a single government agent standing between them and total mayhem.

And it’s not like that one wildlife specialist can suit up, grab every weapon left in the sheriff’s gun cabinet, and crawl through the tunnel to the villain’s lair for the climax of Act 3, because these tunnels are itty bitty. Maaaybe you could win the day if you march Papa Smurf in there, though I suspect the prairie dogs would eat him up in about two bites, and no director would be willing to go double mumbo jumbo by combining Evil Prairie Dogs with Papa Smurf Shows Up in a Live Action Movie.

No. You need to time travel back to 1984 and find this man, the hero we need and deserve, the man who knows how to deal with the prairie dog menace.

More weird news stories for your amusement:

How weird news teaches us great storytelling

Murder Hornets expose the dark roots of our deepest fears

Zombie chicken breast wakes up, walks off restaurant table

Top 10 creepy sea creatures — and why creatures are a staple of our weird news diet

The Exploding Whale and the explosion of weird news

Real geniuses dressing up as ninjas to rob gas stations

Real animal that should NOT exist: the blue dragon mollusk

 

 

Here’s your nightmare fuel for the day: Ancient crocodile that ran like an ostrich

Crocodiles and alligators today are scary enough.

Crazy, right?

Picture this: prehistoric crocs that sprinted after you on two legs, like an ostrich.

It’s like a croc crossed with a T-Rex, and this is what scientists think it looked like:

No thanks.

Here’s the full article if you want more.

Murder Hornets expose the dark roots of our deepest fears

There’s a science to cute animals—Charismatic Mega Fauna—with their big eyes. They look like babies to us, even if they’re fully grown.

And there are reasons why we are irrationally afraid of the opposite, which I’m naming Scarymatic Mega Trauma.

The fear is there regardless of the actual threat.

Murder Hornets belong in this category. They look scary, even if the actual threat is low, and they have arrived in my square-shaped state on the Left Coast of ‘Murica.

Great White Sharks, crocodiles, and snakes all fall into this category. They have squinty little eyes and sharp teeth and a total lack of pettable fur.

Yet the numbers show we’re completely wrong to fear most Scarymatic Mega Trauma.

HERE COME THE MATHS.

Doesn’t matter.

Still scared of getting into the ocean with them. Thanks, Spielberg. I will never learn to surf because of you.

Sharks kill an average of six people per year. Worldwide. Moo-cows are far more dangerous at 20 per year.

Wolves (scary!) kill 10. Adorable dogs? 17,400.

There are some animals that do scare us for good reasons. Lions, tigers, and elephants are on that list, along with crocodiles, scorpions, and snakes. Do not mess with any of them, or try to have them as pets. Joe Exotic is not a role model.

Others creatures are deadly, but neither scary nor cute. Freshwater snails (4,400) do not inspire fear. They just murderize you.

Goats seem cute, despite their horns. You’re not afraid even if 200 of them take over your streets in California.

The biggest killer is the lowly mosquito, who we see as more of a tiny nuisance than the second coming of Ted Bundy. Mosquitos take out 830,000 people per year, which is insane.

I think our caveman brains explain the lack of fear of the mosquito. We don’t just divide animals into (a) Charismatic Mega Fauna and (b) Scarymatic Mega Trauma. There’s also (c) Can I Take This Wild Animal?

That’s the acid test: if we locked you in the Thunderdome with Animal X, would you come out alive and victorious? You see things like mosquitos as so small and easy to smoosh that it doesn’t register as any sort of threat. With a skeeter or freshwater snail, we’re overconfident. No problem, despite the deadly diseases of the blood sucker or the poisonous venom of the tiny snail. Who’s afraid of a snail? Come on.

So yes, there are Murder Hornets in my backyard, and they qualify as Scarymatic Mega Trauma, but I am not afraid. Keep your snakes and snails away from me, though.

Also: There’s a recent photo on the Series of Tubs of this man holding an adorable little octopus in his hand, except it’s a blue ringed octopus, which has enough venom to kill almost 30 humans. Don’t pick those up.

 

Related posts:

A beautiful shot that almost wasn’t

Every week, I see amazing views, things that might be a great shot, and I usually don’t stop to shoot it because LIFE GETS IN THE WAY, and there are places to go, and deadlines to meet.

This time, we saw something amazing and actually stopped.

Here’s what we saw from the car, which didn’t match what our eyes saw.

No big deal, right? It’s a sunset. 

Instead of going to our destination, we flipped around, stopped the car and got out to actually shoot this. And no, I didn’t have the Nikon of Infinite Beauty, so this next photo came from my phone (Pixel 3).

That’s uncropped, unedited and untouched. It may not be the best shot of the dozen I took. I’ll have to check.

Doesn’t matter, because I’m thrilled to have shot it. So worth it. 

I’ll try to shoot more, wherever I go. Not just on vacations overseas or when there’s an event like a wedding. This photo happened on a normal day that just happened to be when the Sun God decided to go crazy and paint the sky.

Weird news you can’t improve: Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

As a former journalist, and a fan of weird news, it’s rare for a story to fully combine (a) dangerous wild animals, (b) stupid criminals and (c) illegal drugs.

Usually, those sorts of ingredients turn into a different sort of weird news story, a Florida Man-style escapade with the possibility of somebody winning a Darwin Award.

But this time, it’s just comical.

I’ll post the link to the story below, but since we’re talking inverted pyramid journalism, you already get the key details.

Feral hogs find and destroy cocaine worth $22,000 hidden in woods

More importantly: What makes this story so good?

A total surprise

I’ve never heard of wild hogs finding and eating cocaine. Pretty sure you haven’t, either.

With so many sources of news online or in print, and the ability to search the Interwebs for old stories, truly new and unique stories like this rarer than a Kardashian born with an allergy to TV cameras.

Your typical weird news story about dangerous wild animals has them doing typical animal things. You know, a bear getting into your house to raid the fridge or swim in your pool. Stuff you can totally understand and predict. If you were a bear, wouldn’t you munch the nom-noms and then take a nice swim? Course you would.

Nobody, not even a crack team of screenwriters in Hollywood sitting in the desert after hitting a bong incredibly hard, would ever come up with feral hogs eating a stash of cocaine in the woods.

Karmic payback

We are wired to think of things in terms of stories, to root for heroes and hope bad guys fail.

This is a case were bad guys fail in a spectacular and funny way.

Oh, you thought hiding the cocaine in the woods was smart? GUESS WHO ATE IT ALL.

A growing problem

Feral hogs are no joke. Go ask farmers in Texas.

Over in Italy, where this happens, the population of wild pigs just doubled. Not from a few hundred roaming the woods like a four-legged Robin Hood and his band of merry, hairy buddies, sniffing around for truffles or Peruvian blow. We’re talking about TWO FREAKING MILLION feral pigs.

That’s not a little problem. That’s the first five minutes of the horror movie known as DAWN OF THE DEAD, CAUSE THE COKED UP WILD HOGS ATE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

Need to shorten that title, but you get the idea.

Here’s a crazy video compilation of when wild pigs attack hunters. I don’t blame the pigs for fighting back. It just shows you how quick and tough they are. Now imagine two million of them in the woods.

 

Zombie chicken breast wakes up, walks off restaurant table

Usually, a great weird news story takes a number of delicious ingredients that work together. 

  • First, you need a person, typically a man, often from Florida.
  • Second, there’s usually some substance abuse: alcohol, meth, cocaine, LSD, magic mushrooms–or, if you’re in West Virginia, wasp spray. Yeah, I’m not making that up. Vodka and crank? Old and busted. Wasp spray is the new hotness, though it might make you may curl up and die like a foamy yellowjacket.
  • Third, your average, intoxicated Florida Man has a hard time crafting his own weird news masterpiece without other actors on the stage. You need a dangerous wild animal, explosives, firearms, motor vehicles, illegal fireworks or a silly crime, like trailer park residents dressing up like ninjas to rob 7-Elevens. 
  • All this builds up to a crescendo of cray-crazy, with our anti-hero giving Mayhem a flirty look in a dive bar before buying her cheap tequila shots, making out in the parking lot and winding up half-naked in the dumpster, which happens to be on fire.
  • Finally, the typical weird news story ends with a 911 call with the police and paramedics arriving to (a) clean up the mess and (b) document the insanity. Mug shots!

Rarely do you get a great weird news story with a single ingredient so amazing that it stands alone, creating a supernova of stupidity and wonder, a blast of white-hot insanity so pure that it needs no help whatsoever from either the great state of Florida or the most powerful intoxicants on planet Earth.

This is one of those cases.

I’ve heard of headless chickens walking around after farmer’s lopped off their noggins. Seems half-mythical, half-believable, and I only believe because a family member saw it growing up and has refused to eat chicken ever since.

HOWEVER: here’s video proof that chickens have zombie powers. This freshly slaughtered chicken breast tries to fly off the restaurant table.

Here’s video proof. And yes, this is the best version of the video, with some decent science paired with silly muzak.

Undead tree stump

Here’s a bonus: there’s another zombie story in the news today, and this one is actually more important than entertaining.

Scientists in New Zealand found an undead tree stump.

Why should we care, aside from the fact that this sounds like the first three minutes of a B horror movie?

The tree stump is only alive because its roots are interconnected with other trees, all to share water and nutrients. Scientists say if this is a common practice, they need to rethink how they see forests. Instead of individual plants and trees, they may be more like a community, helping each other out and protecting against drought and erosion.

With WATERWORLD becoming prophecy, this news is actually a big deal. I’m all for anything that protects against drought and erosion. 

Zombie chicken breast, you’re spectacularly weird and wonderful.

But undead tree stump, you’re important and might help save the only home we have. 

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