Believe it or not, there are a lot more interesting things out there in the world than I can come up with from just inside my little pea brain.
To wit ...
Believe it: Temperature went from minus 4 to 45 in 2 minutes
SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) — Monday (marked) the 75th anniversary of a startling weather event that put a western South Dakota city in the record books.
In just two minutes, the temperature in Spearfish jumped from negative 4 degrees (-20 Celsius) to 45 degrees (7 Celsius) on Jan. 22, 1943.
The Rapid City Journal reports the temperature then increased to 54 degrees (12 Celsius), only to fall back down that morning to negative 4 degrees (-20 Celsius).
The weather cracked windows and instantly frosted car windows, forcing drivers to pull over.
Meteorologist Susan Sanders says a combination of especially cold air from the north and east ran into warm air from the west. Sanders says the warm air pushed the cold air away, but the cold air masses returned once the winds let up.
The extreme temperature swings received national attention, including from "Ripley's Believe it or Not."
Dozens dressed as Tyrannosaurus rex descend on public square
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — His name means "king of the tyrant lizards," but sometimes Tyrannosaurus rex just wants to party.
Make that many T. rexes. Hundreds of curious people descended on Portland's Monument Square on Saturday to observe a gathering of dinosaur lovers dressed as the science museum staple.
There were dozens of T. rexes, and they danced, growled and milled around. One who struggled to navigate his costume walked around with his head protruding awkwardly from the dinosaur's gaping mouth.
Valerie Sanborn and Alison Cyr set up the Cretaceous Period party through Facebook. A non-participant was summoned to snap a group photo because of T. rex's "little arm probz."
There didn't appear to be any participants who arrived dressed as Marc Bolan, late singer of English rock band T. Rex.
Russian police face the unexpected: crocodile in basement
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Russian police had an unexpected encounter while searching a house in St. Petersburg — a crocodile in the basement.
The Fontanka.ru news portal said the incident happened Thursday while detectives were looking for undeclared weapons in the house of a man involved in staging reconstructions of historic military battles with period uniforms and antique weaponry.
When they went down, they saw a crocodile resting in a small pool of water dug in concrete basement. The owner of the house explained that he got the crocodile years ago.
City prosecutors said Friday they were checking whether the man was complying with local laws.
Paper cup allegedly used by Elvis Presley up for auction
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A paper cup allegedly used by Elvis Presley six decades ago in Oklahoma is up for auction, and bids have already surpassed $1,200.
North Carolina resident Wade Jones is a collector of all things Elvis. He tells the Tulsa World that the crumpled blue-and-white Dixie cup was snagged by a fan in April 1956, after Elvis performed at the Tulsa Fairgrounds Pavilion.
Jones says a fan named June allegedly retrieved the cup the day after the performance, right before Elvis left town for a show in Oklahoma City. A letter accompanying the collector's item says June had asked to keep the cup "as a little memento."
Bids for the now-yellowed paper cup had surpassed $1,280 on eBay by mid-day Jan. 17.
Motion-activated cameras capture animals being wild, weird
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — How does a bighorn sheep say "cheese?"
Some charismatic critters caught by motion-detecting wildlife cameras seem to know how to strike a pose. But it's not just show business. As these devices get ever smaller, cheaper and more reliable, scientists across the U.S. are using them to document elusive creatures like never before.
"There's no doubt — it is an incredible tool to acquire data on wildlife," said Grant Harris, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Remote cameras have photographed everything from small desert cats called ocelots to snow-loving lynx high in the Northern Rockies.
Harris cited images of javelinas, pig-like desert mammals, and coatimundi, members of the raccoon family, captured at higher latitudes in recent years. That could mean global warming is expanding their range northward, he said.
Scientists deploying remote cameras in their work include researchers with the Wyoming Migration Initiative, who use global positioning to map the movements of elk, mule deer and antelope in and around Yellowstone National Park. They only have so many collars to track animals, meaning there's a limit to the GPS data they can gather, said Matthew Kauffman, a University of Wyoming associate professor and initiative director.
"You see one animal migrating, you don't know if it's migrating by itself, if it's migrating with a calf, or if it's migrating with 40 other animals," Kauffman said.
Remote cameras — which can be left in the backcountry for days, weeks or even months — help fill in blanks by showing how many animals are on the move over a given period, he said.
Where to position them requires careful forethought. Clustering several around a watering hole, for instance, might produce many images but not a thorough profile of a population.
"There's this tension between subjectivity in where you put your camera and where it's statistically sound," Harris said.
Sometimes smart-alecky humans turn up among the images. "I've seen people moon cameras, and that's always funny," he said.
Remote video can also reveal details about animal behavior, including the mewling sounds of migrating mule deer. And live-streaming cameras for everything from bison in Saskatchewan, Canada, to the underwater kelp forest off California's Channel Islands are always popular.
As with all human intrusion into nature, remote cameras have downsides. Animals such as wolverines and bears have been known to attack them, though whether out of curiosity or aggression is hard to say.
Also, the devices have become popular tools to help hunters scout for game, sparking a debate over fair-chase ethics. Then there's the whole subjective thing about going into nature to get away from it all, including surveillance cameras.
Anyway, to answer the question: A bighorn sheep that looks like it's smiling probably isn't saying "cheese" but sniffing pheromones and other scents in what's called a flehmen response, said Harris.
In other words ... bleats us.
Now how can I beat that? I can't.
Have a good week, everyone.