Oddities News Archive - February 05, 2009

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a mysterious syrup-like odor that was occasionally reported during the past four years came from a New Jersey factory. Bloomberg said city agencies determined the likely origin of the smell by comparing wind patterns to odor reports and taking samples of affected air, the New York Daily News reported Thursday. The odor in New York City was an ester associated with fenugreek seed processing, Bloomberg said Thursday morning.

A Chicago native has unveiled Pay2Play, a Rod Blagojevich-inspired video game for the iPhone that allows players to sell U.S.

A South Korean woman who has failed her driver's exam 771 times said she has signed up for another attempt in the hope that number 772 will be the charm. Choi Young-cheol of the Driver's License Agency in Jeonju, South Korea, said the 68-year-old woman, who was identified only as Cha, began taking the written driver's test in April 2005 and re-attempted the exam on a daily basis until eventually slowing to one test attempt per week, CNN reported Thursday. You have to get at least 60 points to pass the written part, said Kim Rahn of the Korea Times.

A union has the right to display an inflatable balloon in the shape of a rat during protests, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court found that an ordinance in Lawrence, N.J., banning inflatable signs isn't content-neutral because it allows businesses to use them for grand openings. The case began in 2005 when Local 269 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers protested outside Gold's Gym because of a dispute with a contractor working there.

British Schools Minister Jim Knight said the spelling errors that litter his past blog posts were the result of his failure to proofread. Knight, a member of Parliament for the Labor party, misspelled words including received, archaeological, maintenance, pensioners, convinced, achieving and others, The Daily Mail reported Thursday. When I was at school, the teachers always told me to check my work, said Knight, who was educated at the prestigious Eltham College and the University of Cambridge's Fitzwilliam College.

A British woman said Smittens, mittens she designed to allow lovers to hold hands in the cold, are now available for purchase online. Wendy Fuller said the idea for the mittens, which feature two regular mittens and an oversized glove for two hands, came to her while walking in the cold with her husband, The Daily Telegraph reported Thursday. We were trying to hold hands through our bulky mittens, when it dawned on me to create a mitten that was large enough for both our hands.

A British skin cancer charity said 30,000 people registered interest in a hoax program that promised to help computer users tan. Charity Skcin said 30,000 people registered on a Web site for a fake product called ComputerTan, which was purported to use a new technology to help office workers tan while they type, The Times of London reported Wednesday. Instead of the promised tanning session, Web site users were instead forwarded to a page listing facts about skin cancer with accompanying photographs and illustrations of the disease. Richard Clifford, co-founder of Skcin, said the Web site was a method of bringing a little humor into the group's awareness campaign. More people die of skin cancer in the U.K.

British retailer Marks & Spencer has won a refund for taxes paid on sales of a snack that was eventually found to be exempt from taxation. Members of the House of Lords ruled that Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs must refund the $5.1 million in taxes that Marks & Spencer paid for sales of

The director of Germany's Opel Zoo said the facility's three African elephants have finished eating 300 Christmas trees donated after the holiday. Zoo director Thomas Kauffels said the 300 unused trees were donated by traders who would have otherwise thrown out the leftover stock, Der Spiegel reported Thursday. Elephants like to eat wood, it's important for their digestion because it gives them roughage, especially in winter when there aren't many leaves on the trees, Kauffels said. We fed them one or two trees each per day, said Kauffels.

City officials in Copenhagen, Denmark, said pigeons living in the City Hall loft may need to find new homes due to budget restrictions. Officials said the Danish Working Environment Authority ordered the city to improve working conditions for employees who take care of the pigeons, citing the narrow stairway that leads to the loft as unsuitable, the Copenhagen Post reported Thursday. However, city officials said the required renovations would cost about $60,000.

Word of the Day
  • The parings of haberdine; also, any kind of fragments.
The word 'gubbings' is a variant of the word 'gobbon', meaning 'a portion, gobbet.'