Weird and Wonderful

Maybe It’s the heat, but all sorts of weird and wonderful news stories seem to crop up as the temperature rises. Here’s a selection of current events that are just the thing for light summer reading!

Is it safe to go back in the water?

Plenty of two-year-olds like playing with Lego–but not many of them have eight arms.

Ollie is a giant octopus who lives at a British sea life park, and apparently he’s taken a liking to the brightly coloured building blocks. He uses his tentacles to grab the pieces and put them together, which comes as no surprise to his handlers, who say that ?giant octopi are very smart and like to play with toys of different shapes and textures? (1).

So far, Ollie hasn’t built anything that his handlers recognize, and for my money they probably shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for him to do so–even if they aren’t under water.

Meanwhile, a 6-year-old Florida girl will probably have lots of time to play with Lego–she’ll be recuperating with a broken leg caused when a sturgeon leapt out of the water and smashed into her. The girl was riding with her aunt and parents in a 20-foot boat on the Suwannee River when the strike occurred.

Along with the youngster’s broken leg, the three-foot fish caused cuts and bruises to the girl’s aunt.

According to wildlife officials (2), injuries caused by the leaping fish aren’t that uncommon. So far this year, three sturgeon strikes have occurred, injuring four people. In 2006, there were at least ten known cases of injuries caused by the fish.

Lake watchers in Scotland have bigger fish to fry, though. It seems that Nessie–that perennial favourite living in Loch Ness–has resurfaced and an amateur scientist has captured her on film in what Nessie watchers say is the ?finest footage ever taken? (3) of the elusive sea monster.

Gordon Holmes, a 55-year-old lab technician, was astounded when he saw the 15-metre long black shape moving through the water. A marine biologist from Loch Ness 2000 centre has watched the video and plans to analyze it thoroughly.

More than 4,000 people have reported sighting Nessie since the 1930s, but this most recent videotape of the legendary sea monster was considered so impressive that BBC Scotland aired it on their main news program.

Intelligent octopi, leaping sturgeon, mysterious sea monsters–it all makes land-locked pursuits like skydiving look positively tame in comparison!

(1) ABC Action News, 2007. ?Giant Octopus Enjoys Playing with Legos.? Retrieved July 5, 2007, from’section=animals_oddities&id=5416939

(2) The Florida Times-Union, 2007. ?Girl’s leg broken from jumping sturgeon.? Retrieved July 5, 2007, from

(3) PR-Inside, 2007. ?Loch Ness monster aficionados say new video among the finest taken.? Retrieved July 5, 2007, from

Back on dry land, Spanish hotel is a smash

Still feeling stressed by the serious news of the world? A Spanish hotel chain may just have the answer: they let 30 highly stressed-out people take a swing (literally) at the walls and furniture in the hotel’s rooms. CBC News reports that the smashing good time was part of the hotel’s plans to renovate one its Madrid locations.

After being screened and selected by a team of psychologists, the 30 lucky people were let loose with sledge hammers and battering rams. Dressed in protective gear, they demolished TV sets, walls, furniture–all as part of the NH Alcala hotel’s publicity scheme. The hotel had been planning to renovate, and in order to advertise their upcoming facelift they let the amateur demolition crew do the work instead of hiring professionals.

As the hotel said in a statement, ?Who hasn’t dreamed, in the middle of a stress attack, of breaking everything around them?? (1)

When the renovations are complete, the 30-person wrecking crew will be invited back to see the finished product. If the hotel’s management is smart, they’ll do another psychological assessment first to make sure that their guests got rid of all that tension on their first visit!

If your problems can’t be solved by a little physical stress release, though, you might want to try drinking some soup made from magical dinosaur bones.

That’s just what a group of villagers in central China have been doing for the past couple of decades–until they found out that the bones weren’t from flying dragons, but from plain old non-magical dinosaurs.

Apparently, the villagers thought that the enormous bones they’d found were from flying dragons and possessed healing powers. The bones were ground up and made into soup or sold as a powder to be used in traditional medicine. For just 56 cents Canadian, you could buy a kilogram of flying-dragon powder and cure everything from dizziness to leg cramps.

The powder was also made into a paste that was thought to heal fractures.

When the villagers were told the truth about the bones, they decided to donate 200 kilograms to scientists of the Chinese Academy of Sciences to use in research.

Hmmm–if the villagers are stressed out about losing their source of magical dragon bones, maybe that Spanish hotel chain has some more rooms it wants to renovate . . .

(1) CBC News, 2007. ?Stress break: Spanish hotel offers ‘stressed out’ guests chance to smash up their rooms.? Retrieved July 5, 2007, from

(2) CBC News, 2007. ?Chinese villagers eat dinosaur bones believing they’re from flying dragons.? Retrieved July 5, 2007, from