On Jan. 25, 71-year-old Alan J. Abrahamson of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, went for his regular pre-dawn walk to Starbucks. What happened on the way stumped police investigators until March, reported The Washington Post, and on July 13 they made their findings public. Images from a surveillance camera show Abrahamson walking out of his community at 5:35 a.m. and about a half-hour later, the sound of a gunshot is heard. Just before 7 a.m., a dog found Abrahamson's body, lying near a walking path. Police found no weapon, no signs of a struggle; he still had his wallet and phone. Investigators initially worked the case as a homicide, but as they dug deeper into the man's computer searches and purchases over the past nine years, a theory developed: Abrahamson had tied a gun to a weather balloon filled with helium, shot himself, and then the gun drifted away to parts unknown. A thin line of blood on Abrahamson's sweatshirt indicated to police that "something with the approximate width of a string passed through the blood on the outside of the shirt," the final report says. As for the balloon, investigators said it would likely have ascended to about 100,000 feet and exploded somewhere north of the Bahamas in the Atlantic Ocean. [The Washington Post, 7/15/2018]
People Different From Us
Metro News reported on Feb. 20 that travelers "remained silent" for 20 minutes while a fellow passenger on a Ural Airlines flight from Antalya, Turkey, to Moscow used the air vent above her seat to dry a pair of underwear. Witnesses reported that the woman showed no shame and that "everybody was looking with interest and confusion." Debate raged later, however, after video of the woman was posted online, with one commenter speculating that "maybe the takeoff was sort of extreme, so now she has to dry those." [Metro News, 2/20/2018]
New World Order
Taisei Corp., a construction company based in Tokyo, announced in December 2017 that it would use autonomous drones called T-Frends to combat karoshi, or overwork death, reported The Independent. The drones hover over desks of employees who have stayed at work too long and blast "Auld Lang Syne," a tune commonly used in Japanese shops getting ready to close. A company statement said: "It will encourage employees who are present at the drone patrol time to leave, not only to promote employee health but also to conduct internal security management." Experts are skeptical: Scott North, professor of sociology at Osaka University, told the BBC that "to cut overtime hours, it is necessary to reduce workloads." [The Independent, 12/10/2017]
-- Ikea took advertising in a whole new direction with its print ad for a crib. The ad, which appeared in the Swedish magazine Amelia, invited women who think they might be pregnant to urinate on the paper to reveal a discounted price. "Peeing on this ad may change your life," the ad read at the top of the page. "If you are expecting, you will get a surprise right here in the ad." Adweek reported that the agency behind the gimmick adapted pregnancy test technology to work on a magazine page. [Adweek, 1/9/2018]
-- Police in Mainz, Germany, responded to an apartment building after cries were heard from within one unit early on Feb. 17, The Associated Press reported. When they arrived, officers found two men, the 58-year-old tenant and a 61-year-old visitor, "hopelessly locked up" with a mannequin dressed as a knight and a large remote-controlled car. The men were too drunk to explain how they had become entangled, and one officer remarked that "the whole thing would have remained a funny episode" if the younger man had not become "more than impolite." He now faces a charge of insulting officers. [Associated Press via The New York Times, 2/17/2018]
Armed and Frustrated
Linda Jean Fahn, 69, of Goodyear, Arizona, finally succumbed to a frustration many wives suffer. On Dec. 30, 2017, as her husband sat on the toilet, she barged in and "shot two bullets at the wall above his head to make him listen to me," she told Goodyear police when they were called to the scene. Fahn said her husband "would have had to be 10 feet tall to be hit by the bullets," ABC15 in Phoenix reported, but officers estimated the bullets struck about 7 inches over the man's head as he ducked. She was charged with aggravated assault. [ABC15 Arizona, 1/8/2018]
News That Sounds Like a Joke
In Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, drivers of black cars faced high costs to repaint their cars white or silver after President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov banned black vehicles because he thinks the color white brings good luck. Police began seizing dark-colored vehicles in late December 2017, and owners had to apply for permission to repaint and re-register them. The average wage in Ashgabat is about $300 a month (or 1,200 manats); one Turkman told Radio Free Europe that he was quoted 7,000 manats for a paint job, but was told that the price would rise within a week to 11,000 manats. "Even if I don't spend any money anywhere, I will be forced to hand over pretty much my entire annual salary just to repaint," the unnamed man said, adding that his black car had already been impounded. [Radio Free Europe, 1/8/2018]
Just. No. Words.
If you've been wondering whatever happened to Barney the Dinosaur, the Daily Mail had the answer for you. David Joyner, 54, romped inside the big purple suit for 10 years on the 1990s "Barney & Friends" show on PBS. Today, he's a tantric sex guru in Los Angeles who says he can unite a client's body, mind and spirit through tantric massage and unprotected sex. Joyner credits his tantric training with helping him endure the 120-degree temperatures inside the Barney suit. While "surprised," Stephen White, former head writer on the show, said he sees Joyner's new vocation as the "'I love you, you love me' deal, but different. I don't judge or anything, but that's a side of David I didn't know." [Daily Mail, 1/23/2018]
A woman claiming to be on a mission from God led a Kentucky State Police trooper on a chase at speeds up to 120 mph on Feb. 10, stopping only when another trooper pulled in front of her car. According to the Elizabethtown (Kentucky) News-Enterprise, Connie Lynn Allen, 52, of Goodlettsville, Tennessee, told officers that she was Mother Mary, en route to pick up Baby Jesus, and that God had given her permission to speed. She also said that she had died six years ago. She was charged with several offenses and is being held in Hardin County. [News-Enterprise, 2/12/2018]
Want to Get Away?
Many citizens of the world are weary of the war and strife that seem to be consuming the news, and nearly 300,000 of them have already signed up to put it all in the rear-view mirror by becoming citizens of Asgardia. This coming-soon colony on the moon is led by Igor Ashurbeyli, a Russian engineer, computer scientist and businessman who was inaugurated as its leader on June 25 in Vienna. Asgardia's parliament plans to set up "space arks" with artificial gravity in the next 10 to 15 years, where its projected 150 million citizens can live permanently, Reuters reported, and Ashurbeyli hopes settlement on the moon will be complete within 25 years. Asgardia is named after Asgard, a "world in the sky" in Norse mythology. Its leaders hope to attract a population from among the "most creative" in humanity, perhaps using "IQ tests," according to Ashurbeyli. [Reuters, 6/25/2018]
Hey, It's Florida
Indian River County (Florida) sheriff's officers stopped Earle Stevens Jr., 69, on June 27 after another driver called 911, complaining that Stevens' Mercury Grand Marquis kept tapping her bumper in a McDonald's drive-thru lane. The officers noted "a strong odor of alcoholic beverage emitting from his breath ... His speech was slurred and his eyes were red and glossy." He also had an open bottle of Jim Beam bourbon in a brown paper bag on the passenger seat. Stevens, of Vero Beach, struggled to produce his ID and said he's never had a valid Florida driver's license, according to Treasure Coast Newspapers. Stevens argued that he hadn't been drinking while driving, but when the officer asked where he had been drinking, Stevens said, "Stop signs." After failing several field sobriety tests and a breath test, Stevens was charged with driving under the influence and driving without a license. [Treasure Coast Newspapers, 7/12/2018]
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