MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A global company has stepped in to solve quite a "coinundrum" for a Georgia man.
Andreas Flaten's former employer dumped at least 90,000 pennies on his driveway last month as a form of final payment for his work at an auto shop, he said.
When Bellevue, Washington-based Coinstar heard about his predicament, they decided that change was needed.
They picked up Flaten's coins on Thursday and rounded up the amount to give him a $1,000 check.
They also made donations to two charities of Flaten's choosing: two animal shelters.
"Coinstar has been in the coin business for 30 years and we process approximately 41 billion coins annually – so picking up 91,000 pennies was all in a day's work," Coinstar CEO Jim Gaherity said in a statement.
Flaten said his former employer — A OK Walker Autoworks in Peachtree City — owed him $915 after he left his job there in November.
He finally got his pay earlier this month in the form of thousands of oil- or grease-covered pennies dumped at the end of his driveway in Fayetteville, Georgia. Atop the pile: an envelope with Flaten's final paystub and a goodbye note that featured an obscenity.
Flaten had been spending an hour or two every night trying to clean the pennies, which he stored in a wheelbarrow in his garage.
The owner of the shop, Miles Walker, told WGCL-TV that he didn't know if he did or didn't drop the pennies off at Flaten's house.
"I don't really remember," Walker said. "It doesn't matter. He got paid, that's all that matters."
More news of the weird from the past week
Icelandic man gets naked next to erupting volcano, and more of this week's weirdest news
A 'not haunted' house hits the market in Boston area
BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts woman noticed something strange about the “For Sale" sign outside a home in her neighborhood.
On top of the sign with the name of the broker and their contact information was a sign with the words “Not Haunted" in big red letters.
This just went up around the corner and I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. pic.twitter.com/6iQigFQco5— Margot Bloomstein (@mbloomstein) March 24, 2021
The house is west of Boston but Bloomstein didn’t want to say exactly where to respect the homeowner’s privacy, she said. But she reached out to the real estate agency to learn more about the sign.
They knew nothing about it either.
The consensus is that the sign is a prank — maybe played by a ghost with a sense of humor.
7-Eleven is opening a taco drive-thru
7-Eleven wants to get in on the growing popularity of fast food drive-thrus. So it's opening one for its taco restaurant.
The convenience store chain said Tuesday that it is opening a Laredo Taco location with a drive-thru in Dallas. Typically, Laredo Taco locations can be found in 7-Eleven stores themselves. This is the first drive-thru for the taco chain, as well as the first drive-thru at a corporate-owned 7-Eleven store. Customers can order Slurpees in addition to items from the Laredo Taco menu, which include an assortment of tacos, side dishes and aguas frescas.
During the pandemic, drive-thrus have emerged as a key way for fast-food restaurants to sell to customers. Chains that have relied on them for years, like Taco Bell, McDonald's and Burger King, are unveiling innovative new concepts designed to get more customers through faster. Others, like Chipotle and Shake Shack, are rapidly adding drive-thru locations or opening them for the first time.
"Customers looking for socially distanced ways to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner will really appreciate [the drive-thru] now," said Chris Tanco, 7-Eleven's chief operating officer, in a statement.
The new drive-thru is attached to one of 7-Eleven's Evolution stores, where the chain debuts new beverages and offers unique flavors. Customers who go inside will find self-serve specialty coffee, freshly baked pastries and a selection of wine and craft beers, as well as mobile checkout for rewards program users.
Over the past several years, 7-Eleven has gotten more serious about its culinary offerings. It has launched private-label meal kits and tested keto and paleo snacks. It acquired Laredo Taco locations in its 2018 deal with Sunoco.
— CNN Business's Nathaniel Meyersohn and Rachel Metz contributed to this report.
Icelandic man gets naked next to erupting volcano
Stripping off a few layers when things heat up can often be the most natural thing in the world.
Few of us, however, would attempt it in front of a crowd of hundreds while stood in front of a volcano spewing lava.
But adventure tour guide Sveinn Snorri Sighvatsson has gone viral for doing just that during a visit to Geldingadalur in Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula.
His impromptu striptease took place as revelers gathered at the site of the erupting volcano to watch the remarkable display, which began last Friday.
Sighvatsson, who works for tour company I Am Iceland, was asked to model the Pit Viper shades as a favor and decided to take things up a gear to ensure maximum exposure.
"My friends and I were joking about naked pictures in the lava field," he tells CNN Travel. "One of my friends is a photographer and he was telling me about these sunglasses. So I said, 'get your camera ready, I'm going to take my clothes off.'"
The photographer who captured the moment was Norris Niman, who says he knew Sighvatsson was "the was the perfect man for a shot in the freshly formed lava field."
"A festival is not a true festival unless someone gets naked," adds Niman. "And this one was of course no exception."
But undertaking an off-the-cuff photoshoot beside an eruption site was no easy task, and is definitely not to be recommended. In fact, visitors have been instructed not to gather too near to the lava fountains.
"It was like standing too close to a big bonfire," adds Niman. "So we had about a minute to snap this collection while rotating around so as not to roast either side too much and with a big crowd watching."
While his experience as an adventure guide meant he was able to assess the danger and "get in and out" quickly, Sighvatsson stresses that anyone who "doesn't know what they're doing" should stay on upper ground and avoid going near the lava fields.
"People are not aware of the gasses that are there," he says. "It's ok to stay above it [the volcano] on the higher ground, there you are completely safe. But going down into it can be really, really dangerous.
"A heavy wind was blowing on Sunday, so the gasses went into the opposite direction and we were fine staying close to the lava field. But if there is no wind, you don't go down there."
Although the shoot took less than a few minutes, hundreds of people were there to witness it and the moment found it way onto the Internet.
'This eruption is something else'
Sighvatsson and Niman seem to be enjoying the attention brought about by their eruptive photoshoot, and while commentators haven't been focusing their attention on the sunglasses too much, their unnamed friend is pretty pleased with how things turned out as well.
"He actually sent a message saying that that was the picture he was waiting for," says Sighvatsson, who has been back to see the volcano a couple of times over the past few days.
"I have seen every eruption here on the island since 1991, but this is something else."
As crowds continued to gather at Geldingadalur, which is still spewing out lava, Icelandic authorities have set up a hiking trail to regulate the large numbers of visitors and the area is patrolled regularly in order to ensure everyone stays safe.
"It's a perfect tourist eruption," Thorvaldur Thordarson, volcanology professor at the University of Iceland, told Reuters earlier this week.
"With the caveat though, don't go too close."
With drivers confused, Atlantic City to redo BLM road paint
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City says it will redo a Black Lives Matter tribute on a street because the original painting of those words across the entire road confused motorists who didn't know where to drive on it.
Instead, the words “Black Lives Matter” will be painted onto the repaved road in a manner that does not obscure lane divider markings, Mayor Marty Small said Thursday.
The City Council voted Wednesday night to spend $36,000 to repave the road, which police said had become so confusing to motorists that the city blocked it off at either end with barriers to prevent anyone from driving on it.
“It was an oversight on our part, and when we realized it, we fixed it,” Mayor Marty Small said. “The words ”Black Lives Matter" will still be on the street."
The road needs to be repaved because the type of paint used in the display cannot be painted over, officials said.
Last September, the city held an event in which volunteers donated paint, materials and labor to write “Black Lives Matter” in huge capital letters stretching from curb to curb on a section of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the city's downtown.
But the giant yellow letters obscured the yellow dividing line of the four-lane roadway, as well as the broken white lines on either side marking travel lanes.
Acting Police Chief James Sarkos told the council Wednesday night that the mural violated state Department of Transportation regulations. He also said motorists had become confused while driving on it, to the point that police had to close the road to traffic to prevent accidents.
The road painting was a compromise that averted a potential confrontation between activists who wanted to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on the famous Boardwalk, and city officials who would not allow it.
City Council member LaToya Dunston accused the city of wasting taxpayer dollars by painting the road without knowing the rules governing it.
Follow Wayne Parry at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC
Florida family finds dead snake inside their clothes dryer
GROVELAND, Fla. (AP) — After their clothes dryer began blowing out a lot of lint, a Florida family called a repair man who discovered a dead snake rather than a jammed motor.
“I was like oh — that’s what caused the motor to blow,” Alyson Pring told Orlando television station WKMG.
Repairman Darrell Cobble stopped by to take a look at what was causing the problem, the station reports.
“He just stands up, and he walks off. He’s like, ‘There’s a dead snake in there,’” Pring said.
Cobble told the station that while it's not common, snakes can find their way into dryers. He said there is usually a grate that prevents snakes and other animals from entering the dryer. But Pring's central Florida home did not have one.
They'll be keeping an eye out now, Alyson Pring said.
“Could’ve been much worse, but I’m glad it was dead, done, fixed it up and ready to go,” she said.
Lost and found: $1M lottery ticket recovered in parking lot
SPARTA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee man was able to turn his luck around after finding his missing $1 million winning lottery ticket in a parking lot — remaining where he dropped it even on a blustery afternoon.
Sparta resident Nick Slatten learned on March 11 that he won a drawing with all matching numbers on a ticket worth $1,178,746, the Tennessee Education Lottery said in a statement.
“I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it,” said Slatten, who bought the winning ticket at a local grocery store March 10 after a day of laying tile.
Slatten rushed to his fiancée's workplace to share the news, then continued running errands, including taking his brother to buy a car part, followed by a stop for lunch.
Within an hour, Slatten went from ecstatic to panicked when he realized he didn’t have the ticket anymore.
To make matters worse, if a player loses an unsigned ticket, anyone can claim it, the lottery said. So Slatten immediately began retracing his steps, eventually leading him back to the auto parts store where he saw the ticket lying in the parking lot.
“It’s a million-dollar ticket, and someone stepped right over it,” Slatten said.
He was able to retrieve the ticket — which somehow didn't get blown away — and claim his prize.
With the winnings, Slatten told the lottery he and his fiancée plan to continue working, upgrade their cars and buy a house of their own, as well as make investments. He said the couple hopes to live life without “a whole lot of worries."
These dolphins took a day trip up Venice's Grand Canal
It was one of the videos that went viral during 2020's first lockdown, cheering everyone up as they sat at home: a dolphin swimming close to the surface in what purported to be a Venetian canal.
It was fake of course -- it turned out to have been shot near the port in Cagliari, on the island of Sardinia.
But on Monday, two dolphins really did make a day trip to Venice.
They took a trip up the famous Grand Canal, before swimming over to Giudecca island, where they saw no fewer than two churches by Renaissance starchitect Andrea Palladio, before returning home to the Adriatic Sea.
Their visit came when the city is in another lockdown as Italy battles a third wave of Covid-19.
And while they were in danger during their time in the city, it is believed the dolphins made it safely out.
The pair of striped dolphins -- thought to be an adult and a juvenile, probably a mother and child -- were first spotted around 6 a.m. by Marco Busetto, co-owner of drainage company Eredi Busetto Giuseppe, in the Giudecca Canal, a wide waterway separating the long island of Giudecca from the historic center of Venice. He alerted the authorities.
An hour later they appeared at the mouth of the Grand Canal, swimming up the iconic waterway towards the famous Salute church, where the Busetto team -- by now parked up to start work -- clocked them once more.
"It really was a lovely surprise -- something unique and special, to see them and to think how close they had got to the Grand Canal," Luca Folin, who works for the firm and shot a video which swiftly went viral, told CNN.
"But they were also in a lot of danger because of all the boats going back and forth, which could have injured them with their propellers." The group tried to halt traffic while waiting for the police to arrive.
The rescue mission
In the meantime, the authorities called in the experts -- a team from CERT, or Cetacean strandings Emergency Response Team, from the nearby University of Padua. They caught up with the dolphins back in the Giudecca Canal, between the churches of San Giorgio Maggiore and Zitelle, grand marble-clad churches designed by Palladio, which enjoy eye-popping views over the Basin of St Mark's, and St Mark's Square.
"The traffic was intense, and we realized the dolphins were completely disorientated, swimming around in all directions, mostly because they were scared," Guido Pietroluongo from the group told CNN.
"Dolphins mostly orientate themselves by sound, but here, both sides of the canal had walls and there were boats all around. The authorities said they had been stuck there for two hours, swimming round and round."
And so to the rescue. The CERT team -- led by professor Sandro Mazzariol -- coordinated nine boats of the Venice authorities into a chain, trying to steer the animals towards the Lido, Venice's long strip of beach, and a point where the Venetian lagoon meets the Adriatic Sea. It took two and a half hours.
"Time and time again a ferry would cut through the chain so the dolphins would get lost again," says Pietroluongo.
Eventually, with other traffic redirected, the "chain" worked, and the dolphins turned their backs on St Mark's Square, towards the Lido.
"We realized the animals were at the safest point and wanted to see what they would do," says Pietroluongo.
"We sighted them three times and then lost them completely. They hadn't gone back towards the Grand Canal, so hopefully they took the right direction."
It's believed they made it safely back to the Adriatic.
The CERT team were on alert to be called back Tuesday, but there have been no sightings.
"Hopefully they're free in their environment, now," he says.
A rare sighting
Striped dolphins -- as the CERT team believe them to be, having watched back the footage -- are a rare sighting in the northern Adriatic. Deepwater mammals, they are usually found in the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas, and the southern half of the Adriatic, says Pietroluongo. What's more, they usually swim in pods of up to 100, not pairs, and stay far away from the coastline. The last time one was seen in the Venice lagoon was four years ago; bottlenose dolphins are seen more regularly.
The group think that this pair could have lost their way while looking for food. "They could have been following prey in the mid Adriatic, pushed north and suddenly found themselves in Venice," he says.
Or who knows -- maybe they, too, wanted a chance to see the empty, locked-down city that has done the rounds again on social media.
Pietroluongo calls the sighting "joyous." Meanwhile, Luca Folin, who shot the video of the creatures in the Grand Canal, called it a "beautiful and rare moment... at a sad time."
"I uploaded it to social media without thinking it'd go around the world," he says.
"To be honest, I posted it to give a nice greeting to my fellow citizens in such a sad year -- but having the video go viral is nice because it means I've made others smile."
Do octopuses dream? Maybe. But they definitely change colors while they sleep
With its eight legs wrapped around itself as if in a hug and its eye pupils narrowed to a slit, the octopus breathes evenly, its body a uniform whitish gray.
Moments later it begins to change color -- a mesmerizing shift between burnt orange and rust red. Its eyes, muscles and sucker pads twitching as if it may be experiencing a particularly vivid dream.
Brazilian scientists say the shifts in color, behavior and movement are evidence of a sleep cycle -- with the octopus switching between active and quiet sleep just as humans switch between deep sleep and REM sleep -- named for the rapid eye movements we experience in this state.
The findings, published Thursday in the journal iScience, show how sleep may have evolved in a similar way in very different creatures and suggests that octopuses may experience something akin to a dream.
"It is not possible to affirm that octopuses dream because they cannot tell us that, but our results suggest that during 'Active sleep' the octopus experiences a state analogous to REM sleep, which is the state during which humans dream the most," said the study authors Sidarta Ribeiro and Sylvia Medeiros in an email.
Ribeiro is a professor of neuroscience at the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, and Medeiros is a doctoral student at the same university.
Scientists used to think that only mammals and birds experienced different sleep states -- think of a sleeping cat twitching as though it were chasing a bird in the backyard. More recent research, however, has revealed some reptiles and cuttlefish -- another cephalopod and relative of the octopus -- show non-REM and REM-like sleep.
Octopuses have a very different brain structure to humans, but they share some of the same functions as mammal brains. The creatures have special learning abilities -- including being able to solve problems and other sophisticated cognitive abilities, the authors said.
They said investigating octopus sleep was a "vantage point" for comparing them neurobiologically and psychologically with mammals -- with the sleep similarities likely a consequence of "the very taxing mental loads experienced by these separate groups of animals."
The octopus has long been a source of human fascination. Video footage from 2019 of an octopus called Heidi changing color as she slept in a tank had scientists wondering if the creatures could really dream. The Netflix documentary "My Octopus Teacher" has also showcased the creatures' unique abilities.
Dreaming in GIFs not movies
How were the researchers sure the octopuses they studied were asleep and not just resting? The researchers videoed four members of the Octopus insularis species in their lab and studied the animals' behavior over a period of more than 50 days. The octopuses were very sensitive to very weak stimuli when they were alert, but in both sleep states they needed a strong visual or tactile stimulus to evoke a behavioral response, the scientists said.
Octopuses usually change their skin color for camouflage or for communication but during sleep, environmental factors no longer trigger these patterns. The researchers inferred that the color changes during sleep results from independent brain activity.
The study found that the octopus experiences active sleep after a long episode of quiet sleep. In the case of an octopus, the long period is usually more than six minutes.
"If octopuses indeed dream, it is unlikely that they experience complex symbolic plots like we do. 'Active sleep' in the octopus has a very short duration (typically from a few seconds to one minute)," the authors said via email. "If during this state there is any dreaming going on, it should be more like small videoclips, or even gifs."