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News of the Weird


    Rebellion Served Cold

    An unnamed ice cream shop in Hong Kong is offering tear gas-flavored ice cream in support of the region's pro-democracy movement, reports the Associated Press. The shop's owner explained he wanted "to make a flavor that reminds people that they still have to persist in the protest movement and don't lose their passion." "It tastes like tear gas," said customer Anita Wong. "It feels difficult to breathe at first, and it's really pungent and irritating. It makes me want to drink a lot of water immediately." The owner tried several different combinations to achieve the flavor and found that black pepper came the closest. Before coronavirus restrictions, he said the store was selling 20 to 30 scoops per day.

    Just Funny

    University of Arizona wildlife biology professor Michael Bogan caught Saturday morning cartoons as they came to life in a video he recorded of a coyote chasing a roadrunner May 9 in downtown Tucson. Bogan could be heard on his recording saying, "There is literally a coyote chasing a roadrunner. I can't believe it. That is a straight-up cartoon." The reenactment of the classic setup between Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner caught Bogan's attention near the Santa Cruz River, Fox News reported. And, as life often imitates art, the real roadrunner escaped unharmed from the wily coyote.

    The Passing Parade

    Police responding to a reported shooting in Poughkeepsie, New York, early on May 17, arrived to find a very drunk 35-year-old man from the Bronx who claimed he'd been shot in the buttocks, which caused him to fall and hit his head. The Hudson Valley Post reported the unnamed victim was taken to a hospital, where he was treated for his head injury, but doctors could find no evidence he'd been shot. There was no bullet hole in his buttocks, X-rays showed no bullet lodged inside his buttocks, and his pants had no holes in them, police said. Witnesses nearby were also intoxicated and unable to provide any clarification. When officers pressed the victim about his story, he became uncooperative and said, "I didn't pull a gun."

    Homeschooling Gone Wild

    Parents have lodged complaints with the Archbishop Sentamu Academy in Hull, England, after discovering their seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders were sent an exercise asking them to define pornography, soft pornography, hardcore pornography and other sensitive subjects, such as human trafficking and female genital mutilation. Hull Live reported on May 19 that the assignments were made as part of the school's sex education course, but one parent, identified as Mrs. Taylor, said if her daughter had searched these terms on the internet, the results would have "destroyed her mind" and "scarred her for life." The school responded saying, "Students were not directed to research these topics themselves on the internet because all the answers ... were contained in the teacher-produced materials we shared." Principal Chay Bell apologized: "I am genuinely sorry for any upset caused at this difficult time."

    Why Not?

    In Japan, people are enlisting the help of a long-forgotten mythical creature believed to ward off plagues in their battle against the coronavirus. Amabie, a mermaidlike being, first appeared in Japanese folklore in 1846, when she was reported to have appeared to a government official and predicted a rich harvest and a pandemic. She told the man the pandemic could be thwarted by drawing her likeness and sharing it with as many people as possible, BBC reported on April 23. Now, images of the spirit are appearing over five continents, and in Japan, face masks and hand sanitizer with her image are popular. One long-haul driver painted her on the side of his truck, saying, "I travel all over the country with my (goods) and Amabie to pray for the disease to go away." Even the country's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has joined in, tweeting an image of Amabie and encouraging people to "prevent the spread of the virus."

    Going the Extra Mile

    A nurse in the western Russian city of Tula has been disciplined for "noncompliance with the requirements for medical clothing" after photos appeared on social media of her wearing only a bra and panties under transparent PPE on a COVID-19 men-only ward. The unnamed nurse told her superiors at the Tula Regional Clinical Hospital that wearing clothing under the PPE was "too hot" and that she didn't realize the protective gear was see-through. The Scottish Sun reported on May 20 that patients didn't seem to mind, though one admitted there was "some embarrassment."


    On May 15, staff at a Hamilton, Ontario, retirement home transferred all of its residents to a hospital because of an outbreak of COVID-19. That is, except for one. The following evening, after repeated alerts from the man's family, he was discovered in his room at the Rosslyn Retirement Residence by a security officer who had been dispatched to look for him. He was "alert" and was subsequently transferred to the hospital, the CBC reported. "This was clearly not something anybody would have intended to do," and the lack of a master list of residents contributed to the snafu, said Winnie Doyle, executive vice president of clinical operations at the hospital where most of the residents were sent. "This was ... extremely distressing."


    A Facebook group called "A group where we all pretend to be ants in an ant colony" began March with around 100,000 members, reported NBC. Then the world locked down, and membership soared to more than 1.7 million. Started by Tyrese Childs, 20, of Fargo, North Dakota, the group's purpose is to serve their fictional queen and search out food for her, and it is one of roughly 70 role-playing groups on Facebook. Members of the ant colony can post photos about being ants and others join in by commenting with terms such as "MUNCH" and "LIFT." One post featuring a photo of ice cream with ants crawling on it invited members to deliver some of the sweet treat to the queen and got more than 18,000 replies. "I think people are searching for something to do right now," Childs said. "You can only scroll so much on social media."



By Harriette Cole

    DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I barely get along. It has been like this for years. He retreats into the other room and watches TV while I cook dinner, look after the kids and then sit down to relax in the living room to watch TV -- never the same program and rarely in the same room. It has become more noticeable now that we both are at home all day long. Even as we are in the same space 24/7, we hardly ever talk about anything meaningful or sit together in the same room. How did we get to this point? I have other friends telling me how much fun they are having with their husbands during this time. What can I do to spice things up?

-- Doldrums

    DEAR DOLDRUMS: Talk to your husband. Pick a quiet moment before he settles into his evening routine. Tell him you want to have some fun together. Since you can't go out for a date right now, invite him to go on a date with you at home. Ask him to help you prepare a special meal for the two of you. Help can be just having him in the room with you chatting, or, if he's game, he could assist with the preparation. Choose a movie to watch that you both might like, and then talk about it afterward. Set the mood for romance. Encourage some form of intimacy. But take it slow. Little by little you may rekindle the flame if you choose to be together.


    DEAR HARRIETTE: Usually my family and I rent a house in a beach community about an hour from where we live in the summer. We haven't yet organized it for this year because of all of the worries about being quarantined. But then my husband and I decided we might as well. If we have to be away from people, wouldn't it be better in a pretty beach community? We can just take precautions when we go outside and to the beach. We know when the downtimes are. 

    When we started researching, we realized that, to our surprise, there's hardly anything available. I think most people who own these homes have decided to stay there since they can't readily hop on a plane and go someplace else. I'm bummed. I don't know what I'm going to do with my kids all summer. They need to get outside and play. Any ideas?

-- Quarantine Summer

    DEAR QUARANTINE SUMMER: Don't stop looking. Call your friends and people you know in some of the smaller summer communities. Right now, summer rental services are probably not the way to go, but word of mouth might work. If you can't find anything, check the newspaper in your city for summer activities. Just like at the beach, in order to safely take your children to the park, it will likely mean going early in the morning, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask. Pick safe paths for walking. Research trails and parks outside the city where there are fewer people. Get lots of art supplies, too, and do projects with your kids. It's a lot of work, but it may be necessary for you to become camp leader at home.

The Postscript

by Carrie classon

    All of a sudden, there are painted rocks along my path. 

    This has been going on for a while, I guess, but I never saw them in my neighborhood. Now, however, someone has more time on their hands, or a desire to reach out, or has lost their mind in isolation -- whatever the reason -- and little painted stones are appearing everywhere. 

    When I saw the first one, I didn't think much of it. I think it was a "Star Trek" logo (I won't swear to that). It was black and gold and looked kind of space-age. Then I saw a rainbow. Then it registered. "Oh. Someone is leaving painted rocks!" 

    Then I saw a watermelon and several flowers and a few inspirational sayings. When I got home, I googled it. Yup. People were painting rocks. It's a thing. 

    One website reminded rock painters, "This activity is about gifting and not expecting to find a rock or get recognition when yours is found." 

    I like that. You paint a rock, you never know what it will do, how many people will see it, where it will end up. Once it's out of your hands, it has a life of its own.

    Right now, there is someone out there who painted a small, rectangular rock with flowers in two shades of blue and a bright green center. It's a very nice rock. I should know. I put it in my pocket, took it home, and I'm looking at it (and writing about it) right now. I'm guessing the person who painted it did not expect there would be a newspaper column written about it, and that's exactly why I like the idea so much. 

    Because I never know how what I do or say will affect another person. Social media has made it a lot easier to have a lot bigger effect on a lot more people in a lot less time. This is frequently not a good thing. 

    Yesterday, this was brought home to me when I made a less-than-complimentary comment about someone's photo of biscuits and gravy. 

    I immediately regretted it. In no time flat, there was a spirited discussion about the merits of biscuits and gravy going on that I never intended. I did not want to be the Great Enemy of Biscuits and Gravy. I didn't want to go to battle against all the Biscuits and Gravy Champions. I stood zero chance of ever persuading anyone that biscuits and gravy might not be the Very Best Thing in the Whole World and probably, as a result of my thoughtless comment, half a dozen folks were cooking up biscuits and gravy that night because they'd forgotten how much they liked them. 

    (Can we at least admit that biscuits and gravy are not the most photogenic food? OK, never mind.)

    So now I'm thinking, instead of trying to set anyone straight on biscuits and gravy ever again, I'm going to try to leave the equivalent of a painted rock. I try to say "hello" when I meet someone. I always compliment everyone's dog because I figure no one can be told too many times they have a beautiful dog. (And, for the record, all dogs are beautiful.) 

    I try to leave behind something positive and try not to worry where my painted rock ends up. I'm going to hope that someone will find it -- like I found this one -- and think, "Wow! I really like two shades of blue with a bright green center!" 

    And I'm keeping my opinion on biscuits and gravy to myself.


    Till next time, 


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