2011.12.14 Hey, Santa! How about more weird news in 2012?

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY 

 Upon reviewing some of my notes and previous columns for the year, 2011 seems to be rather lacking in the weirdness quotient of recent years. To be fair, there were a few interesting moments….

Take, for instance, the Oregon woman who had dental surgery and came to with a foreign accent. Karen Butler had surgery to be fitted with dentures and woke up talking funny. Her dentist said the problem would go away as she became accustomed to the dentures, but that turned out not to be the case.

Well over a year later, Butler still speaks, depending on who is listening, with a British, Swedish or Eastern European accent. After some online research, she self-diagnosed herself with Foreign Accent Syndrome. Only a few dozen cases have been reported, usually after a brain injury. 

At least she has working dentures, which is pretty important if you want to eat. And that is exactly what Don Gorske from Wisconsin has been doing-eating Big Mac after Big Mac-for the last 39 years. 

Gorske, who has obsessive-compulsive disorder, has missed eating a Big Mac only eight days since eating his first at age 18 on May 17, 1972. On May 17, 2011, he ate his 25,000th Big Mac on the 39th anniversary of eating his first. That’s an average of 641 per year, nearly two per day for 39 years. The Guinness folks declared him a world record holder after he ate a total of 23,000 of the sandwiches.

When his local McDonald’s started giving receipts in 1994, Gorske began saving them to document his consumption. And by the way, the 6 feet, 2 inch tall Gorske weighs 180 pounds.

Arch West, who created the Doritos corn chip, passed away in September at age 97. His family made plans to honor the former Frito-Lay executive by scattering Doritos on his grave before filling it in with dirt. West came up with the idea for Doritos in 1961, but it was six years before the first retail bags hit the shelves.

A September article in the New York Times told of the deliberate burning of natural gas by oil companies in North Dakota. In the western part of the state, companies extracting oil from the Bakken shale field find it unprofitable to build the pipelines needed to bring the gas to market so it is burned off instead.

At night, hundreds of fires can be seen across the prairie. Over 100 million cubic feet of natural gas is burned off each day, an amount the article says will heat 500,000 homes for a day. That means more than the amount needed to heat the entire lightly-populated state is burned off as waste every day.

One of the stranger class action lawsuits filed in recent years was settled in 2011. The suit claimed that certain models of Kenmore and LG refrigerators had a defect that caused the interior light to stay on after the door was closed. Now how do you think this “problem” was discovered in the first place? Did the cottage cheese complain?

The companies have agreed to pay “for repairs necessitated by the actual manifestation of the light remaining on when the door is closed.” What actual trouble was being caused? Were the milk and eggs having problems sleeping at night with that light in their eyes?

Do you have a favorite celebrity you’d like to see on a stamp? In September, the United States Postal Service announced that it was changing its rule requiring subjects of stamps to be deceased and would, starting in late 2012, begin honoring living people on postage stamps as well.

Postal officials hope the move will create excitement and possibly attract younger people to snail mail instead of email. For that to happen, we could end up with some interesting subjects on stamps. Kanye West, maybe? Or Lady Gaga?

It’s a good thing the postal service didn’t come up with this idea 20 years ago, or we might have had Vanilla Ice or MC Hammer on our stamps. The Postmaster General gets to make the final decision on the first living nominee. Maybe he’s a Meat Loaf fan. 

I guess upon further review, 2011 was a pretty interesting year after all. And I know I won’t really have to ask Santa for a more fascinating 2012. After all, it’s an election year. And it looks like we’ve got a cast of characters sure to make it a weird one.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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