News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

LEAD STORY -- Annals of Isolation

-- In Melbourne, Australia, "a bit of boredom in isolation" led 27-year-old astrophysicist Daniel Reardon to experiment on March 26 with an idea to stop people from touching their faces -- a necklace and accompanying bracelet of magnets that would sound an alarm whenever someone reached up, The Guardian reported. When that didn't work, Reardon started playing with the powerful neodymium magnets, clipping them to his earlobes and nostrils, and that's where things went wrong. Two magnets inside his nostrils became stuck together, and he couldn't separate them. Reardon tried using pliers, but they became magnetized: "Every time I brought the pliers close to my nose, my entire nose would shift toward the pliers and then the pliers would stick to the magnet," he said. Finally, his partner "took me to the hospital that she works in because she wanted all her colleagues to laugh at me," and doctors applied an anesthetic spray, then manually removed the magnets. "Needless to say, I am not going to play with the magnets anymore," Reardon said. [The Guardian, 3/30/2020]

-- Donuts Delite in Rochester, New York, has found a special way to pay tribute to immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci. Since March 23, the shop has been printing Dr. Fauci's image on thin, edible paper, then applying it to the buttercream frosting on its doughnuts. Nick Semeraro, franchisee of the shop, told the Democrat & Chronicle: "He's on TV giving us the facts; you've got to respect that. ... People are buying them like crazy. We're making more right now." The doc doughnuts go for $20 per dozen, curbside pickup and delivery available. [Democrat & Chronicle, 3/30/2020]

-- A survey commissioned by Mentimeter, an interactive presentation company, found that 12% of people working from home turn their computer's camera off during a video meeting because they're wearing few or no clothes, United Press International reported on March 26. Along with that, Walmart Executive Vice President Dan Bartlett told The Washington Post, "we're seeing increased sales in tops, but not bottoms," a phenomenon presumably driven by video conferencing workers who do leave their cameras on. [United Press International, 3/26/2020; Washington Post, 3/28/2020]

-- App developers Daniel Ahmadizadeh and Christopher Smeder have good news for those in the dating pool during this time of social distancing and staying at home. Quarantine Together is a text-based app they launched on March 15 that asks users once a day whether they've washed their hands, and if they say yes, they're introduced to another user. Nivi Jayasekar of San Francisco told CNN she was eager to give it a shot: "It was a hilarious idea. I feel like it's an opportunity to form a deeper connection with someone before meeting them," she said. Ahmadizadeh reports that sign-ups have been growing by 50% every day. [CNN, 3/29/2020]

Doggone It!

Alberto Tito Alejandro, 51, was arrested following a high-speed chase after Washington state troopers received multiple calls on March 29 about a car hitting two other vehicles south of Seattle and then racing away at speeds up to 100 mph, AFP reported. Trooper Heather Axtman said when officers got close to the 1996 Buick, they were shocked to see a dog sitting in the driver's seat. Alejandro was steering and pushing the gas pedal from the passenger seat. "When we took him into custody," Axtman said, "he admitted to our troopers that he was teaching his dog to drive. ... I've heard a lot of excuses ... but I've never had an excuse that the dog was driving." Alejandro was charged on multiple counts, including driving under the influence of drugs. [AFP, 3/30/2020]

All In

MedFet UK, a small company that supplies people who indulge in medical fetishes, donated its entire inventory ("just a few sets") of disposable medical scrubs to Britain's National Health Service on March 27 after being contacted by desperate procurement officers, Metro News reported. "When we, a tiny company set up to serve a small section of the kink community, find ourselves being sought out as a last-resort supplier to our National Health Service in a time of crisis, something is seriously wrong," the company posted on Twitter. It also took the opportunity to provide a PSA: "Whether getting ready for some kinky fun or guarding against a virus outbreak, the single most effective method of infection control is scrupulous hand hygiene." [Metro News, 3/28/2020]


Friends Callum Gow, Josh Grossman and Carson Schiefner in British Columbia, Canada, all in their early 20s, decided a hike away from more heavily traveled trails near Alouette Lake would be a good way to maintain social distance on March 20. There have long been rumors of a stash of gold hidden in the area, but the treasure they discovered was completely different: a secret camp, including supplies, that hadn't been touched for almost 30 years. "It was almost like one of those time capsules that you run into," Schiefner told the CBC. The hikers found sealed boxes, a radio, a Coleman stove, first aid supplies, a knife, tobacco and, apropos to current day, a big roll of toilet paper. A log book revealed the camp had been used from 1986 until 1991, and through social media, the hikers managed to find some of the original campers, including Rick Senft. He explained that a group of friends calling themselves the B.C. Weirdness Federation set up the camp, but "life gets in the way" and they gathered there less and less. "They're probably some of the best years I had," he reminisced. [CBC, 3/29/2020]

Desperate Measures

After three days quarantined in his house in Mexico, Antonio Munoz got a yen for Cheetos. With the neighborhood store just feet away, but out of reach for a nonessential trip outside, Munoz enlisted the help of his chihuahua, Chokis. Munoz attached a note and $20 to Chokis' collar and sent the dog across the street. Sure enough, Chokis returned with the Cheetos, and Munoz told Metro News on March 25 he has repeated the trip two other times, bringing back different flavors of potato chips. [Metro News, 3/25/2020]

Government in Action

Business Insider reported the U.S. Navy installed new toilet and sewage systems on two of its aircraft carriers -- the Nimitz-class USS George H.W. Bush and the newer USS Gerald R. Ford -- but found they "reportedly cannot withstand demand without having problems." Frequent clogs require the Navy to "acid flush" the sewage systems "on a regular basis," each flush costing $400,000, a Government Accountability Office review indicated. The carriers house a crew of more than 4,000 people. [Business Insider, 3/24/2020]

Can't Win

A tractor-trailer crash and subsequent fire near Dallas on April 1 lay waste to an entire load of a hot commodity in these bizarre times: toilet paper. The Associated Press reported the driver was unharmed, but the TP "burned extensively" and spilled over the interstate, which had to be closed to traffic. The truck was hauling the large rolls typically used in business restrooms. [Associated Press, 4/1/2020]

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