The Odd Side – November 12, 2013

A banana plant that poked through the roof at the Lyman Plant House. Rob Nicholson says he’s seen plants do lots of amazing things in his 21 years as manager of the college’s Botanic Garden, so he wasn’t entirely surprised at seeing the plant grow through the building’s roof. (AP Photo/The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Kevin Gutting)
A banana plant that poked through the roof at the Lyman Plant House. Rob Nicholson says he’s seen plants do lots of amazing things in his 21 years as manager of the college’s Botanic Garden, so he wasn’t entirely surprised at seeing the plant grow through the building’s roof. (AP Photo/The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Kevin Gutting)

Calif. Thief Gets Away With 140,000 Pounds of Nuts

ESCALON, Ca (AP) – Authorities in California are trying to crack the case of a nut thief who made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts.

The theft, estimated at nearly $400,000, occurred Sunday in the small Central Valley town of Escalon. Investigators say it was one of the biggest to hit the booming industry. Last month, about 12,000 pounds of walnuts worth $50,000 were stolen from a trailer parked on Highway 99 north of Sacramento.

This time several truckloads of walnuts were taken from the facility. Authorities say rising prices — $2 per pound — is what appears to be driving the recent thefts.

No arrests have yet been made.

Walnuts are California’s fourth-leading agricultural export. China remains the world’s leading producer of walnuts.

Hubble Spots Strange Asteroid With Six Tails of Dust

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) – This is one strange asteroid.

The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a six-tailed asteroid in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Scientists say they’ve never seen anything like it. Incredibly, the comet-like tails change shape as the asteroid sheds dust. The streams have occurred over several months.

A research team led by UCLA believes the asteroid, designated P/2013 P5, is rotating so much that its surface is flying apart.

Scientists using the Pan-STARRS telescope in Hawaii spotted the asteroid in August. Hubble picked out all the tails in September.

The discovery is described in this week’s issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Thieves Steal 160 Sheep Near UK Town of Wool

LONDON (AP) – Wool’s wool is missing.

Police in southwest England appealed for help Tuesday in tracking down thieves who made off with 160 sheep from a field near the village of Wool.

Police say the sheep were stolen between Saturday and Monday, and that the thieves would have needed a large vehicle to move the woolly haul.

Constable Adam Taylor says all of the sheep were electronically tagged.

He is urging anyone who has witnessed suspicious activity — or been offered sheep “in unusual circumstances or for very low prices” — to come forward.

Banana Plant Breaks Northampton Greenhouse Roof

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) – A banana plant at Smith College was apparently so determined to keep growing that it broke through a pane of glass on a greenhouse roof.

Rob Nicholson says he’s seen plants do lots of amazing things in his 21 years as manager of the Northampton college’s Botanic Garden, so he wasn’t entirely surprised. But he did say it was annoying that the pane on the 30-foot high roof needs to be replaced.

Nicholson tells The Daily Hampshire Gazette he learned about the situation Monday when he arrived at the plant house. A staff member who worked on the weekend left a note on his door alerting him to the problem.

Nicholson says he has seen photographs dating to 1904 that show the same banana plant in nearly the same location.

Michigan Man Wins Million-dollar Lottery — Again

LANSING, Mich. (AP) – Officials say Joseph Palmarchuk won a $1.35 million lottery jackpot Wednesday in Michigan’s Classic Lotto 47 game. In the past few years, Palmarchuk has also won a $1 million lottery game in Tennessee.

Palmarchuk and wife Phillis moved to Mecosta County, north of Grand Rapids, in 2011. He says he likes to buy lottery tickets that retailers put aside as mistakes.

The Palmarchuks plan to hunt for a condominium in a warm state to skip Michigan winters.

Wisconsin Family Reunites With Cat Lost Five Years Ago

MILWAUKEE (AP) – A southern Wisconsin family who had lost hope of ever seeing their cat after he ran off five years ago has been reunited with the gray tabby.

A Racine woman turned Sammie in to the local Wisconsin Humane Society after being concerned the declawed kitty that had been hanging around her home for months would not survive the cold weather. Turns out the 8-year-old cat was microchipped, so owner Lindsay O’Neill, who also lives in Racine, was called Monday evening after the cat had been brought in.

She picked him up Tuesday at the shelter, about 30 miles south of Milwaukee.

“When I saw him I just broke down and cried,” O’Neill, 32, said Thursday. “It’s really hard because for five years he was without a home. He was roaming the streets. … It just broke my heart that he went through that. He’s a good cat and I’m so glad he’s home.”

He did have a skin infection caused by fleas and a mouth injury that was already healed, but otherwise he was fine.

The family, including two daughters who are now 13 and 10, was devastated to lose Sammie, she said, and for a while, they kept up hope he’d return because of his microchip. But as time passed, the family assumed his sweet personality attracted him a new owner.

“Microchips make reunions like this possible,” said Alison Kleibor, director of the humane society’s Racine location.