Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, March 15th

March 15 (UPI) -- A New Zealand couple who applied to have a massive vegetable named "Dug" recognized as the world's heaviest potato by Guinness World Records said the DNA test had a shocking result -- the tuber is not a potato.

Colin and Donna Craig-Brown, who unearthed the 17.4-pound object from their Waikato farm in August 2021, said Guinness World Records requested a sample of Dug for DNA testing as part of their record application, and they heard back from the record-keeping organization on Sunday.

The Craig-Browns said Guinness had the sample tested by Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture/SASA, and the examination revealed Dug the Spud was actually a "tuber of a type of gourd."

"I'm disappointed, but he's still 'Dug - not the biggest potato,'" Colin Craig-Brown told Stuff.co.nz. "It's been a real roller-coaster of potato-rama. We hopped on the roller-coaster eyes wide open and enjoyed the ride and this was the last real twist."

Craig-Brown speculated that Dug might have been the result of a seedling he purchased that may have been crossbred with a gourd and a cucumber.

"I'm trying to rationalize how this has happened," he said.

Craig-Brown said the saga has inspired him to make a new attempt at growing the world's largest potato.

"It's inspired me to grow my potato and really get stuck in. Draw on all the knowledge and scientific know-how that I've accumulated through the process with all the experts. I'm really gonna give it my all and have a go at growing the biggest potato in the world," he said.

Craig-Brown said Dug will also have a future -- as vodka.


March 15 (UPI) -- A Florida school's swim team practice was delayed when the students discovered the pool was already occupied -- by an alligator.

The Lake County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that deputies responded to Montverde Academy on a report of an alligator crashing the swim team practice and refusing to vacate the pool voluntarily.

The deputies used a safety hook to pull the 3-foot gator closer to the edge of the pool, where it was grabbed by another deputy.

The alligator's jaws were secured with electrical tape and the reptile was taken to Lake Apopka, where the tape was removed and "the gator was released on its own recognizance."

There were no injuries to humans or alligators during the incident.


March 15 (UPI) -- A World War II bomber jacket left behind at a Washington restaurant in the early 1950s was returned to the daughter of its original owner more than 60 years later.

Pat Nesbitt, who now lives in Molalla, Ore., said he was 5 years old and undergoing treatment for polio when his uncle gave him the leather bomber jacket he found abandoned at a Tacoma restaurant.

"When my uncle gave me the jacket, from 10 years old to 18, I put on the jacket because it gave me superpowers," Nesbitt told KATU-TV. "If he could do 40 missions in that jacket, I could sled down the cliff, and I did. Most people could come back after 25, but he didn't. This guy was a superhero, and this is a jacket a superhero would wear."

Nesbitt said he kept the jacket in good condition over the decades.

"I oiled it, replaced the cuffs and the zipper. My biggest goal was to find somebody who would appreciate it as much as I did and eventually give it back to the family," he said.

Nesbitt said the name of the jacket's original owner, Miles F. Blum, was written inside the jacket's lining, and in February he decided to enlist the help of friend Jerry Ferguson to try to find members of Blum's family.

Ferguson used Ancestry.com to connect with Blum's daughter, Teri Sargent of Bella Vista, Ark.

Sargent said her father died when she was only 14.

"My dad and I were joined at the hip. When he coached the church softball team, I was the bat girl. When he went to Dodger games, I went with him. We were very much alike, and I loved my dad a lot," she said.

Sargent said Nesbitt was right about the jacket belonging to a "superhero."

"He flew B24 bombers in that jacket. He flew 40 missions in that jacket. He was all over Europe, France, and Germany," Sargent said.

Sargent received the jacket in the mail this month.

"All I could think to say was, 'Welcome home daddy.' Which is silly for a grown woman to say, but that's what I felt. I could feel him there. I put my hand in the pocket, and I could feel him there," Sargent told KHBS/KHOG.


March 15 (UPI) -- Authorities in South Carolina are urging residents to be on the lookout for an unidentified "large cat" spotted on the loose.

Mad Minute stories from Tuesday, March 15th

The Calhoun County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that residents should "use extreme caution" after the "large cat" was spotted in the Sandy Run area of Swansea.

Chief Deputy Matt Trentham said multiple people have called the sheriff's office to report a large cat on the loose, but no such animals have been reported missing in the area. He said some callers identified the loose cat as a tiger, but the identity of the feline has not been confirmed.

The Lexington County Sheriff's Department and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources are participating in the search for the animal, officials said.

Trentham said officials have not yet managed to glimpse the animal, but they have located a paw print that authorities believe could belong to a large feline.


March 15 (UPI) -- A house listed for $979,000 in the Detroit suburbs is drawing attention online for an unusual feature -- a toilet that resembles an actual throne.

The St. Clair Shores house is nicknamed the "House of Charm" in honor of its original resident, Edythe Fern Melrose, TV and radio host known as The Lady of Charm.

The home, listed for $979,000 by Tom Fincham of Community Choice Realty, features five bathrooms, but one is drawing particular attention for its toilet -- a high-backed wooden seat that resembles a royal throne. The toilet features a candle holder mounted to its high wooden back.

The house, which also includes an unusual bathtub on wheels, was previously listed for $1.2 million in 2021.


March 15 (UPI) -- Dennis of Australia encountered a roughly seven-foot Carpet python when he went to grab a beer from his bar fridge.

Reptile specialist Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 came to the rescue in order to capture the large snake so that Dennis could have his beer.

Mullet Mick and Adele of Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 arrived onto the scene and wrangled up the Carpet python in a video posted to the company's Facebook page on Tuesday.

The duo then set the snake free into the wilderness. The carpet python had leaped out of the bag it was placed in as it was eager to be free.

Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers 24/7 previously helped an Australian family catch one of the world's most venomous snakes from their swimming pool in February.


March 14 (UPI) -- A Florida sheriff's office teamed up with utility workers to rescue the eggs from a screech owl next precariously perched at the top of a power pole that was scheduled for replacement.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office said workers from Pike Electric contacted the sheriff's Animal Services division when they discovered the screech owl nest at the top of an old utility pole.

The Animal Services deputies worked with the utility employees to hatch a plan to safely relocate the eggs so the new pole could be installed.

Workers installed a birdhouse atop the new pole, ensuring the house was pointing in the same direction as the nest on the old pole.

The workers and deputies then carefully moved the nest from the old pole to the new birdhouse.

"The old pole is gone, the nest was not compromised, and Jensen Beach should soon be home to some new baby owls," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.


(The Washington Post) A huge cargo ship got stuck in the Chesapeake Bay, almost a year after a sister ship blocked the Suez Canal, according to authorities.

The Ever Forward, a 1,095-foot container ship, got stuck Sunday night after leaving Baltimore, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The vessel remained stuck in the bay Monday night while the Coast Guard assessed the situation, said Petty Officer 1st Class Stephen Lehmann, a spokesman for the Coast Guard's Mid-Atlantic district.

It was not clear why the ship got stuck, but Lehmann said it was outside the normal shipping channel and posed no obvious threat to navigation.

The vessel is apparently owned by Evergreen Marine Corp., Lehmann said, the shipping organization that also owns the Ever Given, the vessel that got stuck March 23 in the Suez Canal, choking the waterway and attracting worldwide attention.

A major concern in the assessment of the ship in the bay was to make sure that the vessel, if refloated, would remain seaworthy and pose no hazards, Lehmann said.


March 15 (UPI) -- Firefighters in Ireland came to the rescue if a curious kitten that ended up stranded on the roof of a house.

The Dublin Fire Brigade said a crew responded to a report of a cat stranded on the roof of a house in the Dolphin's Barn area.

A firefighter used a safety rope to climb on the roof and bring the tiny kitten back down to the ground.

"The forlorn feline was soon reunited with its 5-year old human," the fire brigade said in a Twitter post. "If you are concerned about an animal, contact an animal rescue organization who will ring us if needed."