The Odd Side – February 24, 2015

India Insists: Obama’s Tree is Not Dead

NEW DELHI (AP) – Officials in India want to make one thing clear: The tree that President Barack Obama planted in New Delhi three weeks ago is not dead.

It just looks dead.

The peepal tree was awash in leaves when Obama planted it at the New Delhi memorial to Indian independence leader Mohandas K. Gandhi. By Thursday, though, it was just a single lonely stem.

Its lack of leaves has been giving Indian officials sleepless nights, with the media here blasting them for allowing the tree to die less than a month after the presidential visit.

But the reality: Peepal trees often lose their leaves this time of year.

“It’s a seasonal phenomenon,” B.C Katiyar, a top regional government horticulturist, said Thursday, after he and other officials visited the tree and pronounced it in good health. “It will send out shoots within the next 10 days.”

Man Sells Watch He Found at Secondhand Store for $35,000

PHOENIX (AP) – A watch collector spotted a rare Swiss timepiece in a Phoenix secondhand store, bought it on sale for $5.99 and then sold it for $35,000.

Zach Norris said he went to a Goodwill store in January to look for a golf cart but took some time to peruse the watch section.

It proved to be time well-spent.

Norris said he was excited when he recognized the 1959 Jaeger-LeCoultre diving watch, he told KTVK.

“I’ve found some stuff in the past that I have been really excited about and stoked, but this is one of those things you’re like, ‘One day, one day it will happen,’ and it happened for me,” Norris said.

Norris took his purchase to a dealer for the brand, Oliver Smith Jeweler in the Phoenix suburb of Scottsdale. The business’s watchmaker authenticated the timepiece, Vice President Paul White said.

The watch was “worn, but not badly worn, certainly wearable,” White said.

A San Francisco enthusiast gave Norris $35,000 plus a less valuable watch.

Asked about the price tag, White said it was “market-driven.” The watch was part of a production run of about 1,000 and “a rare enough piece” that it would have garnered interest among collectors, White said.

Norris says the proceeds will help pay for his wedding.

The discovery shows there are deals to be had at the thrift stores, Goodwill spokeswoman Summer Dunham said.

“We’re happy for him,” Dunham said.

Boston Mayor Warns Would-be Window Snow Jumpers: Don’t Do It

BOSTON (AP) – Boston residents overwhelmed by massive snowfalls the last month have been recording videos of themselves jumping out of windows and into snowbanks, and Mayor Marty Walsh wants them to cut it out.

Walsh chastised thrill-seekers who’ve been filming themselves performing the frosty feat and then publicizing the footage. He says, “It’s a foolish thing to do, and you could kill yourself.”

He says Boston “isn’t Loon Mountain,” a New Hampshire ski resort. He said Monday the stunts are dangerous as city workers struggle to clear snow-clogged streets and deal with snowbanks 10 feet high.

The city has scrambled to keep roads clear after record-breaking snowfalls.

Sea Lion Pup Hitches Ride On Family’s Kayak in California

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) – A family out for a kayak trip in California picked up an unexpected hitchhiker: a sea lion pup that hopped on for a 20-minute ride.

The family from Orange County says the sea lion hopped up and made itself comfortable, even cuddling up with the dad as he paddled with his kids.

A crowd gathered on the pier to watch as the pup relaxed and enjoyed the journey.

State Police Seek Suspect Who Cut Tails, Manes From Horses

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) – State police have been searching for a suspect who cut the manes and tails from three horses at a western Pennsylvania horse complex.

Cortney Shipley manages the barn and trains horses at the Henderson Equestrian Complex in Jefferson Township, Butler County. That’s about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh.

She tells the Butler Eagle that horse hair is used to make jewelry and tail and main extensions for show horses. The hair can even be used to make brushes, violin bows, hat bands and wigs.

Shipley believes the horse barber struck during the lunch hour on Wednesday, when the horses would have been unattended in an open field along a road.

Shipley says it takes years for horses to grow back their manes and tails.

East Texas City Offers Smaller Version of Concrete Tomatoes

JACKSONVILLE, Texas (AP) – An East Texas city that’s the self-proclaimed home of 665-pound concrete tomatoes has offered smaller versions of the inedible artwork.

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce this week began selling 175-pound concrete hunks in the shape of tomatoes.

President Peggy Renfro said that the bigger undecorated versions were so popular that chamber officials have about 40 smaller ones available at $150 apiece.

Chamber officials sold more than 335 of the larger concrete tomatoes since the paint-it-yourself artwork was unveiled in 2012. Those cost:  $250 apiece.

Renfro says people are very competitive when they want to decorate the tomato-shaped concrete blocks that can be seen throughout Jacksonville.

The city’s 31st annual Tomato Fest is set for June 13.