At the beginning of August in 1969, Colonel Edwin Aldrin, Jr. submitted a two-page travel voucher for expenses. The trip the previous month was from Houston, Texas, to Cape Kennedy, Florida, to the moon, to the Pacific Ocean, to Hawaii, and back to Houston. The total expenses were $33.31, which was approved.
It’s hard to read, but I believe there was a $1 per diem for 19.25 days, minus two meals at $2.25 each, $10 for travel from his home to Ellington Air Force Base and back, and I can’t read the first item at $8. Now, if only there were a frequent flyer program in those days, he would have really racked up! Buzz Aldrin posted this to his Facebook feed. -via Bits and Pieces
If Dad hadn’t shot Walt Disney in the leg, it would have been our best vacation ever!
In 1979, National Lampoon magazine printed a short story called “Vacation ’58” by John Hughes. He wrote it while snowed in by a blizzard in Chicago. The story is told from the point of view of the Griswold son, as it was based on a real vacation trip Hughes had taken with his family when he was a child. The trip starts off badly and becomes worse.
Mom pleaded with Dad to stop at a motel when we got to Springfield, Illinois. Several times he crossed completely over the median lines and drove in the opposite lane. Once, while going through a little town, Dad drove up on the sidewalk and ran over a bike and some toys. Mom accused him of being asleep at the wheel, but he said he was just unfamiliar with Illinois traffic signs.
He took off his shoes, rolled down the window, turned the radio way up, and made us all sing the Michigan State fight song. But after a few minutes we were all sound asleep, our new station wagon racing down U.S. 55 like a bedroom on wheels. I don’t know how far we traveled like that. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic at that hour so we didn’t hit anything. We finally woke up when Missy asked Dad to get her a drink of water and Dad said, “Go ask Mommy, Daddy’s sleeping.” I heard that and so did Mom, and she screamed and Dad slammed on the brakes, and the luggage tumbled forward onto the back seat and Dad’s golf clubs scattered all over the highway.
“Vacation ’58” was Hughes’ big break, and led to him writing the screenplay for National Lampooon’s Vacation. He would later go on to write, produce, and/or direct movies such as Home Alone, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off. You can read the entire story “Vacation ’58” at The Hollywood Reporter. -via Digg
Have you ever wondered about the person the Smithsonian Institution was named after? It’s a rather peculiar story.
James Smithson (1765-1829) was a well-to-do English scientist who had never visited the United States. In his 1826 will, he left his estate to his nephew. But he ended his will with an odd clause that said if that nephew died without heirs, legitimate or illegitimate, the estate would go “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase & diffusion of knowledge among men.” When Smithson’s nephew died without heirs in 1835, the peculiar clause went into effect. On July 28, 1835, Smithson’s solicitors notified the United States government of the bequest. An 1835 article in the National Intelligencer told the public that a “gentleman of Paris” had left a bequest to the United States, for the purpose of endowing a National University.
That seems all very nice, but this was 1835, and the government of the Unites States didn’t know what to do with the bequest, or even whether they should accept it. The president handed the matter over to Congress, where they weren’t sure of the procedure for taking the bequest, or even if it was allowed by the Constitution. Some politicians had objections to receiving money from an Englishman. Read about the conundrum Smithson caused at (where else?) Smithsonian.
Redditor studercinema said his school recently got a new shipment of iMacs, and this is what they did with the boxes. The redesigned space-saving boxes lend themselves well to a 36-iMac human hamster wheel. However, unless you get a mass shipment of computers, you should save the box in case you ever move your household or sell your computer.
This must be a wealthy school district. My kids’ school asks them to bring their own devices, and asks for donations of old equipment for students who don’t have one, and for the elementary computer labs. There aren’t any two computers in the lab that match.
A female badger is recovering at an animal shelter in Rewal, Poland. She was found unconscious, surrounded by seven empty beer bottles. Two more were hidden in the bushes. Rewal is a seaside resort, and shelter workers believe the badger, now named Wandzia, stole the bottles from tourists, and opened them with her teeth. After two days of sleep, the badger is recovering, although still somewhat disoriented. She may be released into the wild this weekend. -via Arbroath
The Batalla de Flores, or the Flower Battle, is the grand finale of a month-long festival in Valencia, Spain, every July to convince people to stay in the city during summer. It starts with a parade of floats full of ornately-dressed women and girls. They parade once for the judges, a second time to wave their tennis rackets, and the third time….
Wait… what was that about “tennis rackets”?
One might assume that onlookers have gathered along the Paseo de Alameda simply because they love a colorful procession, enjoy cheering on lovely falleras in traditional dress, and hope to see some interesting floats. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. This crowd is blood-thirsty. The only thing they really want, and the one reason they’re attending this event, is to hurl softball-sizeds flower at the falleras, and clock them right in their pretty faces.
That happens on the third go-round of the parade. The tennis rackets are defensive weapons to lob the carnations back to the crowd. Even after the parade, the flower battle continues, but it’s all in fun and doesn’t really hurt. Afterwards, the streets of Valencia are covered with a layer of colorful carnations. See a gorgeous collection of photographs of the Batalla de Flores (and a video) at For 91 Days.
Mark Hamill has been signing Star Wars photos and memorabilia for 38 years. I’m sure what he puts on them depends on the situation and how much time he has. Some of the bubblegum cards have surfaced with great jokes to go along with the autograph. Hamill no doubt has heard every Star Wars joke ever made, so there are more of these to be found. I particularly like this one. -via reddit
Do you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning? Are you tempted to go for “five minutes more”? Inventor Colin Furze (previously at Neatorama) has the ultimate wake-up experience for you! He built a bed that has a horrid alarm with lights and sound, but if you don’t jump up immediately, the bed will do that for you, too!
Quick -can you name all seven actors who’ve played Batman? There’s Adam West and Christian Bale and… were there really seven? Yes, but some of them were before your time. It started with Lewis G. Wilson in 1943 (pictured above).
Wilson was the first and youngest actor ever to play the adult Batman, and also the least successful. At 23, the unknown thespian donned the cape and the cowl in the 15-part 1943 Columbia serial Batman. While he looked the part of the dashing playboy, his physique was more Danny DeVito as the Penguin. One critic described Wilson as “thick about the middle.” Maybe that was why he wore his utility belt just below his chest. Critics also complained that his voice was too high and that he had a Boston accent. That, of course, wouldn’t be the last time someone complained about Batman’s voice.
Find out what happened to Wilson after his Batman role, as well as the other six actors who took on the part. Ben Affleck is not counted as one of the seven, because we haven’t seen him in action yet. You’ll find the roundup at Den of Geek.
Kids latch onto the strangest things, but sometimes you just gotta go with it. Grayson always turned his attention when an ad for New Orleans personal injury lawyer Morris Bart came on. It was his favorite thing on TV! His mother L’erin Dobra noticed his fascination.
“Before he could walk or talk, every time the Morris Bart commercial would come on, he was just fixated,” she says. “You couldn’t talk to him. You couldn’t do anything with him. He would just sit and stare at the TV. You could call his name, give him a toy. He didn’t care. He just wanted to watch the Bart commercial. He’s been that way ever since, and when he started talking he would say, ‘One call’ or ‘Bart, Bart, Bart, Morris Bart, Morris Bart.’
So when Grayson’s second birthday was coming up, his Dobra contemplated a party theme, and decided to focus on the lawyer. She contacted Bart’s office through his website, and they sent a cardboard cutout, a signed photograph, and some office swag. Dobra had Bart’s face put on the birthday cake. And it was all a super big hit with Grayson. See more pictures at Buzzfeed.
A thousand Italian singers, guitarists, bassists, and drummers under the name Rockin1000 got together to play “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters. Watching that many people play and sing together -well- is spine-tingling.
Hi Cesena! I'm Dave. Hi. I'm sorry, I don't speak italian... just a little bit! This video... it's amazing! Such an amazing thing... thank you! We are coming. I promise. See you soon... Thank you so much. I love you! Bye
Check out more amazing talents over at our Mad Skills blog
You may think that you’ll never be a great writer. Maybe someone told you so. But some folks don’t listen to naysayers -they just keep at it until they get a chance to show their stuff. And even then, they don’t let failure stop them from working and improving. It’s the ones who dare who end up on that pile. This is the first panel of a story from Grant Snider at Incidental Comics. Go to his site to find out how it ends.
Before he became a movie star and then a politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his name internationally as a bodybuilder. He climbed the ranks from 1965 to 1970, and won international championships over and over from 1970 to 1975. Then he retired from bodybuilding to focus on his fledgling career in film. In 1980, he had to go back into training to bulk up for Conan the Barbarian.
The 1980 Mr. Olympia contest in Australia was just around the corner, and Arnold was asked to host the event, but he had other plans. One day before the contest — and to the dismay of the other competitors — Arnold announced himself as a part of the competitive field. Other bodybuilders like Mike Mentzer and Boyer Coe took offense to the 11th hour placement of Schwarzenegger, citing that he should have had to register months in advance like the rest of them. Ben Weider took the competitors into a private room at the Sydney Opera House to hear their complaints, but it was made official at the end of the meeting: Arnold would compete.
The other competitors were shocked and upset, as they had to register for the competition months earlier. But that wasn’t the only strange thing about the competition. Read the rest of the story at Uproxx.
Did you ever imagine that you’d see a “top ten” list like this? It’s not so much that a medieval monk drew a cat in the margins of an illuminated manuscript, but that there are this many of them in a list at Discarding Images, all licking their butts. Why? EmpressCallipygos at Metafilter offers an explanation, which is worth reading in its entirety. Here’s an excerpt:
So imagine this monk sitting there in a dimly-lit scriptorum, back bent over his work - he's tired, he's achey, grinding the pigment for the paint made him sneeze, and that one other monk with the mole gave him a dirty look and oh for goodness sake how could i help it the stuff got up my NOSE, brother - and he's got a long way to go before he's done illuminating this one page from Revelations, and come to think of it it was the monk with the mole that insisted there be so much blue in the damn thing....
...And in walks his cat, just sort of ambling in. Our monk momentarily glances up, too busy to do much more than notice Puss-Puss walking in. Ah, though, maybe he can watch the cat for just a second, take a little break...
...And he looks up again, just in time to see Puss-Puss plonk down and start to lick his butt, something which always tickles him because dear lord how on earth do they get their legs cocked so far back....
And after a second, our tired, cranky, bored monk switches the blue ink for the gray, and begins drawing.
Cat images may be shared by more people in the modern age, because internet, but laughing at cats and attempting to share that humor has a long history. -via Metafilter
It's reverently quiet when Jared Campbell comes running down the trail and into camp. He’s looked better. For one thing, his facial muscles appear to be asleep, even as he somehow keeps moving. He’s wilted from hours of exposure to the cold and rain, his skin covered in bloody scratches and caked with mud. The crowd—similarly battered runners and assorted spectators—is quiet for the first time in hours. The only sound is that of Campbell’s footfalls atop the soggy earth.
This silence is significant. The bugle has already sounded for most other runners at this year’s Barkley Marathons. Whenever a damaged competitor returns to camp, defeated by the course, a bugler blows “Taps” (this is called being “tapped out”). It happens to almost all the athletes who muster the courage—or insanity—to attempt the world’s most confounding foot race. Last night, in freezing rain, snow, and 45 mph icy gusts, it sounded 19 times.
Finally, one onlooker’s voice softly breaks the silence: “He’s running. He looks good.” The crowd around the fire rolls into applause. When Campbell catches his breath, he reports on the conditions: “It snowed a lot up there. It was really pretty, but it was cold.” The 34-year-old mechanical engineer from Salt Lake City reveals he slept 20 or 30 minutes on the trail at sunrise—“until I started shivering.”
And then, just like that, he’s gone again. Campbell is attempting another loop.
Here in the backwoods of Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains, a “loop” is 20 miles. Specifically, it’s 20 unmarked miles that traverse thick brambles, prickly briars, and relentless hills that bring more than 60,000 feet of elevation. The course’s difficulty is only amplified by the maddeningly slippery footing. To finish the Barkley Marathons, a runner has to complete five loops. It takes days, if it happens at all. Since the race began in 1986, only 14 people have finished it.
Now it's time for our collaboration with the amazing What Is It? Blog! What is this object in the picture? I don't know! The great thing is that you don't have to know the correct answer to win a t-shirt from the NeatoShop!
Place your guess in the comment section below. One guess per comment, please, though you can enter as many as you'd like. You might know the true answer, but we're going to select two winners who come up with the funniest, most outlandish guesses to win a T-shirt from the NeatoShop. However...
This game is limited to those who haven't won a t-shirt in the last month. Please write your T-shirt selection and the artist who designed it alongside your guess. If you don't include a selection, you forfeit the prize, okay? May we suggest the Science T-Shirt, Funny T-Shirt and Artist-Designed T-Shirts?
Let your imagination run wild! Good luck! You can also challenge yourself with plenty of other mystery items at the What Is It? Blog.
Update: We still haven’t found out exactly what this thing is for, so it is a true mystery. But we had some excellent guesses! Congratulations to ryanduck, who wins a t-shirt from the NeatoShop for this:
Clearly the first prototype of a flat screen TV mount
And to ChrisM 1, who said,
It is a device invented by a parent of two children for ensuring that nobody's piece of anything is bigger than anybody else's.
That makes sense. Thanks to everyone who played along, and a big thanks to the What Is It? Blog!
Woodard says that among these 11 nations, Yankeedom and the Deep South exert the most influence and are constantly competing with each other for the hearts and minds of the other nations.
"We are trapped in brinkmanship because there is not a lot of wiggle room between Yankee and Southern Culture," Woodard says. "Those two nations would never see eye to eye on anything besides an external threat."
Have you ever smelled things in your dreams? That’s kind of rare, but maybe that’s why you still remember it. there’s been quite a bit of research into dreams, although we still don’t understand the process of dreaming. John Green tells us about some of the more interesting findings in the latest episode of The List Show from mental_floss.
Herman Harband commissioned his own headstone ahead of time to be placed on his grave when he died. It was ready for him at Beth David Memorial Gardens in Hollywood, Florida. The inscription reads:
My wife Eleanor Arthur of Queens, NY lived like a princess for 20 years traveling the world with the best of everything. When I went blind, she tried to poison me, took all my money, all my medication and left me in the dark alone and sick. It's a miracle I escaped. I won't see her in heaven because she's surely going to hell!
However, Harband remarried. When he died in 2011, his second wife Domnita had him buried in a couple’s plot in Raleigh, North Carolina, with a different stone. See his actual grave. According to Find a Grave:
Herman Harband was not buried at Beth David Memorial Gardens, but he did own a headstone at the cemetery, thus making it a cenotaph, not a grave. The internet-famous headstone is real (confirmed by records and the cemetery director), but it was removed in early 2014 and the plot was sold back to the cemetery at the request of his wife. According to the cemetery directory, the headstone (as of this writing) is in storage at the cemetery.
Peter Watts recalls a study in which an adult had a brain scan and was found to have almost no brain at all. The skull was filled with cerebrospinal fluid except for a thin layer of brain tissue around the edges. This person had an undiagnosed case of hydrocephalus that left him with a cavernous hole in the middle of his head. Yet he had an IQ of 126 and a math degree.
It happens occasionally. Someone grows up to become a construction worker or a schoolteacher, before learning that they should have been a rutabaga instead. Lewin’s paper reports that one out of ten hydrocephalus cases are so extreme that cerebrospinal fluid fills 95% of the cranium. Anyone whose brain fits into the remaining 5% should be nothing short of vegetative; yet apparently, fully half have IQs over 100. (Why, here’s another example from 2007; and yet another. Let’s call them VBNs, or “Virtual No-Brainers”)
What makes the difference between those who are fully functional and those who aren’t? Watts gives us a few ways the brain might work around such damage, some which have been debunked, and some that have never been adequately studied. What is unsettling is the thought of how many people never need a brain scan and go their entire lives not knowing they have none. Do you know for sure that you have a brain? -via Metafilter
Moo is a barn cat at Sunflower Farm Creamery. She’s a dedicated barn cat, keeping watch out for vermin and even sits and supervises goats when they give birth. When week-old kids Lady Bug and Princess Leia try to make friends, Moo makes it clear she just wants a little nap. While Moo has seen lots of goats come and go, everything is new to the bouncy goats.
What impressed me in this video is the relative size of the goats and the cat. Those are tiny little kids! Well, Moo is a pretty healthy size for a barn cat. After all, she lives in a creamery, and apparently gets her share of goat’s milk. -via HuffPo
Now that we finally know what Pluto and its moon Charon look like, the first thing we want to do is name the stuff we see there. And so we have maps with names. And what names! Pluto gets craters, plains, and other features named for historical figures like Hillary and Norgay, science names like Sputnik and Challenger, and even fictional names like Cthulhu and Balrog. As far as that goes, Charon is even more interesting. A portion of Charon’s map is shown above, with names from Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, and other science fiction worlds.
“It shouldn’t be a big surprise to anybody that once we put [the fictional explorers and travelers theme] up for a vote that names like Kirk and Spock and Skywalker and Leia became popular names,” Showalter added. A quick glance at the map will show Lord of the Rings fans will not be disappointed, either.
Among many others, there are also references to Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Stanley Kubrick for his film 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Adams for his book The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and Madeleine L’Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time.
The place names aren’t set in stone yet. They must first be approved by the International Astronomical Union. But these preliminary place names give scientists reference points to study and communicate to each other. Read about them and see more maps at Buzzfeed.
In this new video from NASA, astronauts aboard the International Space Station play with a ball of water by adding Alka-Seltzer. Oh, it bubbles, alright, but those bubbles really don’t have anywhere to go, so they just float around inside the orb. One occasionally explodes from the surface, but there’s not enough gravity to force it upward, because there really is no “upward.”
NASA is all excited about their new Red Dragon camera, which captures images in 4K resolution. You can read more about it at their website. It will enable scientists on the ground to observe experiments on the ISS as well as the crew does. If you want, you can change the YouTube resolution to the highest level under the settings button, and see each bubble clearly. -via Digg
Even Hitler had a bomb shelter, actually, many of them. But none compared to the vast network of underground facilities and tunnels beneath his favorite vacation getaway town of Obersalzberg.
This multi-roomed subterranean compound is composed of an apartment and a set of underground chambers for fellow Nazi inner circle members—over four miles of tunnels, bunkers and hidden rooms in total. Above ground, an entire village was built as an Alpine retreat for the Nazi government.
But with the war failing, the mysterious underground complex was to be the last redoubt of the Third Reich. Carpet bombed by the Royal Air Force in April of 1945, then locked up by the occupying U.S. Army, it was handed back over to Germany in 1952 with the proviso that the remnants be blown up again out of existence. But not everything was destroyed, and today, you can still visit the secret ruins of the Nazi’s planned Alpine fortress.
Action Park in New Jersey is famous for their history of crazy and dangerous rides. The newest attraction at the refurbished and upgraded park is a water slide that’s 1,975 feet long. That’s a third of a mile! The folks at Guinness agree it is the world’s longest water slide. It’s not open to the public just yet -the state of New Jersey has to approve it first. However, park employee Jason Mulder strapped on a GoPro and went down the slide for a media day event. The video is unsettling and soothing at the same time. -via Boing Boing
A group of street artists called the Germen Crew collaborated with the Mexican government to paint a neighborhood in the district of Palmitas in Pachuca. After 20,000 square meters of walls were painted, the 209 homes are a rainbow of color!
On top of beautifying the neighborhood, the project has been a tool of social transformation as during the process, the violence amongst younger people has been entirely eradicated and several jobs created.