1980: At the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, Alan Grogono reported on the results of an experiment to determine the efficacy of bathrooms walls as a teaching tool.
While teaching a class on CPR, he placed educational posters about CPR in the bathroom of one college dormitory, while placing no posters in the bathroom of another. Students housed in the dormitory with the bathroom posters subsequently scored significantly better on the CPR exam than those in the no-poster dormitory. In fact, students in the bathroom-poster dormitory who hadn't even taken the class scored as well as students in the no-poster dorm who had taken the class.
Grogono concluded that bathroom posters could be a useful supplement to CPR training. He also credited his "fascination with restroom communication" to his student days at London Hospital Medical College.
The Dutch cartoonist Jan Kruis, recently deceased, was responsible for proclaiming November 29th of every year to be the "Sint Pannekoek-feest," and getting the whole country to play along. The main tradition is to wear a pancake on your head.
It was actually an interactive exhibit at the I.Q. Zoo, the famous animal training facility and tourist attraction in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Founded in 1955 by Marian and Keller Breland (students of the psychologist B.F. Skinner), it stayed open until 1990.
Developed in the 1980s, when smaller computers were becoming popular, Compu-Chick "appeared" to answer questions typed by the visitor. A small keyboard in front of the chicken, containing small lights that were invisible to the visitor, "cued" the chicken as to which letters on the keyboard to type.
I'm not sure, but maybe Google's "PigeonRank" technology, which the company revealed on April 1, 2002 to be the secret behind their search results, could have been inspired by Compu-Chick.
1984 - Richmond, California: After 71-year-old Alice Richie's husband died, she began watering her lawn. And she didn't stop. She kept the sprinklers on 24 hours a day, for over a year. Rain or shine. Using over 20,000 gallons of water a day.
Her yard turned into a swamp, breeding mosquitoes. The runoff poured over onto her neighbor's properties, damaging the foundations of their homes and causing algae to grow on driveways. The city had to put up caution signs on the sidewalk in front of her home.
Richie ignored pleas to turn off the water. When asked why she was watering so much, she replied, "It's none of your goddamn business." People speculated that she believed she was washing away evil spirits.
However, she paid all her utility bills on time, so the water company couldn't simply cut her off. Finally, her neighbors took her to court.
Even in court she wouldn't explain why she watered so much. But the court ordered a flow restrictor put on her waterline, limiting her to 500 gallons a day (which still sounds like a lot for a single person). This finally put an end to the non-stop watering, after a year-and-a-half. A utility spokesman said, "She'll have just enough water to do her laundry, dishes and bathe. But she'll have to make some sacrifices if she decides to water her lawn."
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any photos of Richie's front yard, or of Richie herself. Nor, to my knowledge, was her mania for watering ever explained.
Books Selected and endorsed for Pure Weirdness by Your WU Team
Get WU Posts by Email
Who We Are
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.