Odds & Ends

Dateline: Oregon

Joshua Lee
5 min read
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An unidentified man dispersed thousands of dollars to people waiting in line for coronavirus relief checks. According to KOIN in Oregon, residents across the state waited in credit union lines last week to apply for $500 emergency relief checks that will be distributed as part of a newly announced state program. A group of people waiting in line at an OnPoint credit union in Hillsboro, Ore. said they were given an extra gift. According to witnesses a man pulled up to the credit union in a Jaguar. He was reportedly irritated when he saw the long line blocking the ATM and asked why the people were there. When they explained what they were waiting in line for, the man did something incredible. “All of a sudden he breaks open a stack of $100 bills,” said witness Kathryn Davidson. “And he said distribute this down the line. He just said here take it, and he didn’t ask for any thanks. He just drove off.” Davidson said she believes the man handed over up to $10,000. “He actually broke the band off of it so that means it was $10,000. At least $3,000—maybe the whole $10,000—was just distributed to everyone in line,” she said. The mysterious man has not been identified.

Odds & Ends Dateline: Germany

A German university is offering $1,900 grants “for doing nothing.” United Press International reports that the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg is offering “idleness grants” to students willing to abstain from all activity as part of research for an exhibition on sustainability. The university plans to award three students with the grants. Each will be paid $1,900 and be expected to practice “active inactivity.” A panel of school officials will hear students’ idleness proposals and decide which students will receive the grants. Friedrich von Borries, the theorist behind the program, told reporters that the faculty are looking for impressive feats of idleness. “If you say you are not going to move for a week, then that’s impressive,” he said. “If you propose you are not going to move or think, that might be even better.” The amount of time spent actively being inactive is reportedly up to the applicant. The school said the grants will be awarded in January 2021. Von Borries said participants will receive the grant money whether they are successful at being inactive or not.

Odds & Ends Dateline: Japan

A new set of public restrooms with transparent walls has been installed at a Tokyo park. According to NPR, architect Shigeru Ban believes that the colorful, transparent bathrooms will help put people at ease. “There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” claims the architect’s firm. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.” When someone locks the restroom door from the inside, the walls turn opaque, obscuring the person. “Using a new technology, we made the outer walls with glass that becomes opaque when the lock is closed, so that a person can check inside before entering,” said sponsor the Nippon Foundation. The new transparent restrooms are part of the foundation’s Tokyo Toilet project to redesign toilets across the city in an attempt to enhance Japan’s image as a culture of hospitality. The project is enlisting famous architects to reimagine restrooms in 17 locations around Tokyo. The transparent restrooms are meant to inspire relaxation and comfort in users. After dark they light up the park with various colors “like a beautiful lantern,” the Ban’s website says.

Odds & Ends Dateline: Switzerland

Swiss residents were shocked last week when a chocolate factory malfunction caused cocoa powder to fall from the sky. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Lindt & Sprüngli company said there was a minor defect in the cooling ventilation for a line of roasted “cocoa nibs” in its factory in Olten. The nibs leaked into the air and were reportedly picked up and spread across town by strong winds. The resultant dusting left a number of objects in the vicinity of the factory coated in a chocolate powder—including at least one car. The company apologized for the malfunction and offered to pay to clean the automobile, though no one has come forward to accept the offer. It said the cocoa dusting was harmless to residents. The candy ventilation system was repaired, and the factory soon resumed normal operations once more.

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

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