Solved: The Mystery of Why Garfield Phones Have Been Washing Ashore in France for 35 Years

JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Ever since his newspaper debut in 1978, the lasagna-loving and lackadaisical comic strip cat Garfield has been a ubiquitous presence in popular culture. Thousands of licensed products, a series of movies, and animated shows made him famous. Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis, even admitted he set out to create a character that would be easy to market.

That ambition backfired in a big way for the people living near the Iroise coast in Brittany, France. For decades, plastic telephones shaped like Garfield have washed ashore. Some arrive complete; others are in fragments. In 2018, more than 200 pieces appeared on the beach.

The reason was a mystery—until now. According to the BBC, anti-litter activists from France’s Ar Viltansou group recently mounted an awareness campaign drawing attention to the waste on the beaches, which sit at the Iroise Marine Nature Park.

The press caught the attention of a local farmer, René Morvan, who told Ar Viltansou president Claire Simonin-Le Meur that a raging storm in the 1980s led to a shipping container full of the phones being freed from a cargo ship. The container settled into a sea cave, where it remained mostly hidden. Morvan and his brother waded out to investigate and discovered the stash.

Acting on the information, representatives from Ar Viltansou and the Franceinfo media outlet set out to find the container during low tide, which was buried and surrounded by a number of the phones. The novelty items are said to be in incredible condition given the water and their age, with the paint mostly intact. Inside the phones, activists discovered starfish threaded between cables and crabs making their homes.

While the smoking gun has been found, it may not do much to resolve the waste issue. The container is mostly inaccessible and it’s unknown how many more Garfield phones still linger. Worse, no one is quite sure if there’s not another container somewhere out there, prepared to deposit a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Garfield phones in perpetuity.

[h/t BBC]

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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People Are Receiving Unsolicited Face Masks in the Mail From China

InspirationGP/iStock via Getty Images
InspirationGP/iStock via Getty Images

Bewildered residents in several states, including Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida, have received unsolicited packages from China that contain face masks. While the packages haven’t caused any harm, cover labels that list recipients’ names, addresses, and even phone numbers have left people a little ill at ease.

“All of this information, including my cell phone number, [was] on there,” Shan Sharp of Clearwater, Florida, told WFLA. “I was afraid to even open it after I saw it.”

Sharp opted for the better safe than sorry route and threw her package right in the garbage, but others are holding out for an explanation before they take action.

“I just keep them tied up and sealed,” Michelle Barron of Hickory, Pennsylvania, told KDKA after a police officer advised her to dispose of the masks.

It’s not the first time in recent weeks that reports of unsolicited mail from China have circulated in the news—some people have also gotten packages of seeds. If you’re one of them, definitely don’t plant the seeds, since they could be damaging to the plants and wildlife in your area.

Though the mystery might never be fully solved, the Federal Trade Commission suspects that it could be a “brushing” scam, where retailers mail products to random consumers and then submit positive reviews online in their names. They might create new accounts using your information, or they might hijack your existing accounts. If you’ve received an unordered package, you should closely monitor your shopping accounts and contact customer service if you see a review (or any other activity) that isn’t yours. Changing your passwords is a good idea, too.

As for the products themselves: You have no obligation to try to ship them back or pay for them—but you might want to take the advice of Virginia’s Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department and simply toss them in the trash, even if they seem safe to use.

[h/t WFLA]