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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

July 18, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Spider fire, and other stuff you might have missed this (and last) week

Bats? Spiders? Giant snails? Mysterious human skulls?

No, it’s not Halloween. But it is a different kind of holiday, if you will: the triumphant return of the offbeat-news roundup, after a week’s hiatus. To celebrate, I give you The Weird News Double-Week Double Whammy! Two weeks’ worth of weirdness, jam-packed into one easy-to-digest list.

1 Skull donations and brain implants

These two skulls found in a Goodwill donation bin in Bellevue had been prepared for medical or educational uses. (Photo courtesy of the King County Medical Examiner)

These two skulls found in a Goodwill donation bin in Bellevue had been prepared for medical or educational uses. (Photo courtesy of the King County Medical Examiner)

Memory a little foggy (and not just from all that legal pot you might or might not be enjoying)? Soon enough, a device could be surgically installed in your brain to improve cognition.

But if you’re just what my mom would call a “Forgetful Jones,” you probably won’t be first in line for the device: Researchers’ focus right now is on people with traumatic brain injuries, in particular wounded veterans. If that goes well, the general public could be next.

The Pentagon is spending tens of millions of dollars on the research. Cool brain implants ain’t cheap! Human skulls, on the other hand… well, apparently you can find those in the donation bin at the Bellevue Goodwill.

2 Bats in the belfry (er, attic) and nude strangers in the foyer

When a Seattle couple discovered hundreds of bats had moved into their attic overnight, they decided not to call a pest-removal service. Instead, they turned them into a neighborhood attraction.

Speaking of strange (but decidedly less welcome) visitors: A nude man smashed through the front door of a Lake Washington Boulevard home at almost 2 a.m. and began loudly reciting Scripture to the family inside.

3 Pilfering the peculiar

In this undated photo provided by the Manteca Police Department are three Tillamook Cheese vans that were stolen Saturday July 12, 2014. Police in Central California are searching for three bright orange Tillamook cheese vans that were stolen over the weekend. Manteca police say the restored Volkswagen minibuses, worth $100,000 each, vanished early Saturday from a hotel parking lot. They were secured in a trailer pulled by a Ford F-350 pickup that also painted orange. Police say the minivans had stopped in Manteca on a tour promoting the Oregon-based Tillamook County Creamery Association’s dairy products. (AP Photo/Manteca Police Dept.)

In this undated photo provided by the Manteca, Calif., Police Department are three Tillamook Cheese vans that were stolen Saturday, July 12. (AP Photo/Manteca Police Dept.)

If you’re going to steal, steal something interesting. A few examples from recent news stories:

- Tillamook cheese vans, painted orange to resemble the product, stolen from a hotel parking lot in California and later found unharmed in a storage locker.
- More than $600,000 worth of wine, notable not only for the size of the elaborate heist but for the fact it happened on Thanksgiving Day (the thieves pleaded guilty this week).
- The vehicle of a good Samaritan. A man who crashed a motorcycle on I-5 in Everett tried to carjack the vehicle of a woman who stopped to help him. After she fought him off, he ran from the scene, carjacked a Mazda Miata and continued on his way. Police determined the motorcycle he crashed had also been stolen.

4 Pot-shop proprieters get punny

The intrepid staff over at our pot blog, The Evergreen, has spent lots of time covering the advent of legal marijuana in Washington. In that reporting process, they’ve come across some pretty hilarious proposed names on applications for retail pot stores.

Their top-10 list is here.

My favorites: Hypeherbally and One Hit Wonders.

5 Giant African snails seized at Los Angeles airport

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1. (Photo by Greg Bartman / AP)

One of the snails from an air cargo shipment of 67 live snails that arrived at Los Angeles International Airport on July 1. (Photo by Greg Bartman / AP)

TSA agents probably find all kinds of hard-to-believe, hard-to-dispose-of stuff when they search people’s luggage. But 67 live, 8-inch-long snails?! That’s a slimy situation indeed.

The snails were being sent from Nigeria to San Dimas, Calif., but they were intercepted and incinerated because that species is banned in the U.S. They can destroy agriculture here and carry parasites harmful to humans.

6 Man sets house on fire trying to kill a spider

I’m as arachnophobic as they come and even I don’t understand this one: A man used spray paint and a lighter as a makeshift blowtorch to kill a spider in his laundry room.

The fire he started caused $60,000 in damage. No humans were injured, but a Seattle Fire Department spokesman said he was “pretty sure the spider did not survive.”

Have you tried any bizarre methods to get rid of a pest? Tell me about it in the comments.

Comments | More in List, Roundups, Weird news | Topics: bats, Bellevue, brains

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