Alibi V.26 No.38 • Sept 21-27, 2017 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: United Kingdom

Authorities are facing what they say is one of the largest “fatbergs” ever seen in Britain. The solid mass of fat, oil, soiled tampons, used condoms and wet wipes was discovered blocking a Victorian-era, east London sewer. According to reports, the fatberg is longer than 3 football fields and weighs 130 metric tons. Last week, an 8-man work crew began using jet hoses to break up the blockage before sucking it out with a tanker at a rate of 20 metric tons a day. Officials say the mess could have been avoided if residents had practiced proper use of the sewage system by not dumping fat, oil, grease and wet wipes down their toilets and sinks. They are reminding residents to properly dispose of these items in trash cans. The Museum of London has requested a piece of the fatberg to place on exhibit to show the ramifications of sewage misuse. A smaller fatberg was found in a sewer in Kingston, southwest of London, four years ago. Experts say much of the problem can be blamed on London's antiquated sewage systems, some of which date back to the 19th century.

Dateline: Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania driver followed his global positioning system (GPS) into a river. It might sound exactly like the plot of an episode of “The Office”, but police say that Gabriel Bishop of Sellersville followed directions given to him by his GPS unit, which led him to drive onto a bike path. Reports indicate that Bishop realized something was wrong when the car reached a bridge it couldn't fit under. He then allegedly attempted to reverse, but was unable to stay on the path and rolled the car into the Lehigh River in Easton, PA. Bishop was uninjured, but was issued traffic citations by the police. His car sustained heavy damages from the wreck.

Dateline: Japan

Pancake lovers were invited to partake in a maple-scented “hot cake bath” earlier this year. The world-famous Hakone Kowakien Yunessun hot spring resort in Japan—known for offering outlandish baths like green tea, coffee or wine—gave breakfast fans the chance to soak in baths infused with actual maple syrup. The special bath was the result of a collaboration with confectionery company Morinaga to celebrate the 60th anniversary of their pancake mix. The hot cake bath could be found in the resort's “swimsuit area”—meaning nudity was not allowed—and was infused with syrup by employees three times a day.

Dateline: California

A California-based burger restaurant announced last week that it will be replacing some of its employees with a burger-flipping robot. CaliBurger, which operate in 12 countries, contributed funds alongside Canyon Creek Capitol and a number of individual investors to Miso Robotics for the development of AI and automation that aims to remove the “high pain points” jobs in restaurants and food prep. These include all the dirty or dangerous jobs found around a grill, like chopping onions or operating a deep fryer. To meet the challenge, Miso Robotic's employees spent time in CaliBurger kitchens working as grill cooks before designing Flippy, the burger-flipping robot. The Flippy robot is a wheeled cart equipped with a six-axis robotic arm that can be installed in front of or next to any standard grill or fryer. It uses data collected by a “sensor bar” that utilizes an array of thermal sensors, 3D sensors and onboard cameras to interpret its environment. Flippy can grab burger patties, move them onto a hot grill, monitor cook times and temperatures, alert human cooks when it’s time to apply toppings and plate burgers. It doesn’t wrap the sandwiches or add toppings like sauce or vegetables. CaliBurger has committed to using Flippy in at least 50 of its restaurants over the next 2 years. The robot is already being tested in one of the company's Pasadena locations.

Dateline: Australia

An Australian driver was startled when he heard crying sounds 10 miles after leaving his home. He pulled over and discovered that a koala was latched onto his car's wheel strut. The animal had presumably climbed into the wheel arch while the car was motionless and became trapped when the car began moving. Jane Brister, a rescue worker who was sent to the scene to coax the koala off of the car's axle, said the animal had been in distress and had singed some of her fur. The animal—nicknamed “Kelly the Koala”—was in shock, and Brister rushed her to a veterinarian. After 48 hours, Kelly was released into the wild with no signs of permanent injury. Koalas are marsupials, an order of mammals whose young are suckled in a pouch. They are native to Australia, where there are possibly fewer than 80,000 left in the wild.

Compiled by Joshua Lee. Email your weird news to josh@alibi.com.