Alibi V.28 No.25 • June 20-26, 2019 

Odds & Ends

Odds and Ends

Dateline: Arizona

An 81-year-old man who is accused of robbing a credit union said he wanted to get caught, because his social security payments weren't enough to cover his living expenses. According to Fox 10 in Arizona, details of the 2018 robbery were made public earlier this month at a hearing to determine whether Robert Francis Krebs is mentally fit to stand trial. According to police, Krebs robbed a credit union in Tucson months after being released from prison on a previous charge. He allegedly entered the credit union, placed a BB gun that resembled a handgun on the counter and demanded money. He left with $8,400 and was later arrested at a hotel. He allegedly did not wear a disguise during the robbery and told arresting FBI agents that he “kind of wanted to get caught” so he could return to prison. He reportedly spent 30 years serving sentences related to bank robbery and embezzlement. Krebs' lawyers argued that the man suffers from symptoms of dementia and are asking that he be declared incompetent. If the request is granted, he will be sent to a mental health facility where his competency might be restored. If that fails, the case against him could be dismissed. Prosecutors argue that Krebs showed signs of his competency when he told FBI agents that “$800 a month in Social Security is not very much to live on these days.” Krebs has pleaded not guilty to bank robbery charges.

Dateline: Canada

A grocery store is encouraging shoppers to forego the use of plastic bags by printing embarrassing slogans and logos on them. The Guardian reports that customers who don't bring their own shopping bags to East West Market in Vancouver are made to take their groceries home in plastic bags that have humorous logos printed on them like “Into the Weird Adult Video Emporium” and “Wart Ointment Wholesale.” David Lee Kwen, the shop’s owner, told reporters that he originally tried raising awareness about plastic waste by charging customers a five-cent fee for plastic bags, but it failed to curb their use. “It’s human nature not to want to be told what to do,” he said. He then came up with the idea of using the funny bags. The bags are meant to make customers think about their choices through laughter. Kwen says that some customers have begun collecting the bags, but that he doesn't see a problem with it. He says it will only create more opportunities for people to talk about the issue. Last week Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced plans to ban single-use plastics in 2021.

Dateline: Canada

A man has donated his frostbitten toe to a Canadian hotel known for its “Sourtoe Cocktail.” According to BBC News, ex-Royal Marine Nick Griffiths, of England, reportedly mailed his toe to the Downtown Hotel in Dawson City, Canada. He lost the toe to frostbite in 2018 while competing in the Yukon Arctic Ultra, an extreme winter marathon held in the Yukon. Participants in the marathon were tasked with competing in 100, 300 and 430-mile races. Griffiths was forced to drop out of the race after developing frostbite on his left foot, and his big toe had to be amputated. He returned to the United Kingdom to recover in a hospital. The toe was reportedly stored in medical grade alcohol and sent to the Downtown Hotel with a letter from Griffith asking that he be notified of its safe arrival. He also expressed his desire to visit the hotel and be the first patron to imbibe a “Sourtoe Cocktail” containing his own severed digit. The small hotel is famous for this unique drink—a cocktail of any type served with a mummified human toe floating in it. Those who allow the toe to touch their lips while enjoying this cocktail are issued a certificate by the bar. Downtown Hotel General Manager Adam Gerle said in a statement that the hotel was happy to receive the toe. The cocktail has been served for many decades, and toes have been accidentally swallowed and stolen in that time. The hotel has solicited the public to send in their unused toes, but Griffith's is the first usable donation. Gerle said the hotel will be flying Griffith out to drink a Sourtoe Cocktail with his own toe this summer.

Dateline: Australia

Researchers have discovered a way to lower housing costs with bricks made from human waste. Forbes reports that a team at Australia’s RMIT University, led by associate professor Abbas Mohajerani, recently published a paper in the construction science journal Buildings that reports the successful use of “biosolids” to form bricks. These substances are the dried, disinfected wastes that result from wastewater treatment. A large amount of biosolids reportedly end up in landfills. Mohajerani's team is working to find a new use for that waste. They began by visiting two local wastewater treatment plants and removing biosolid samples from existing stockpiles. These samples were mixed with clay soil and fired in the same manner as traditional bricks. The researchers then compared the new bricks to their current counterparts. They found that those made with the biosolids showed lower thermal conductivity than the control bricks and could potentially provide more insulation. It also took significantly less energy to construct each brick. However, the team said that the waste matter's tendency to burn away left pores in the bricks, making them weaker overall and increasing shrinkage.

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