Most of us have hobbies, but some super fans or super collectors go beyond the limits of what most of us have time for. You might call them obsessive. Rob Foster is in the running for the most obsessive collecting of Star Wars toys.
While it's hard to definitively claim that Rob Foster is the biggest Star Wars fan in the world, as the owner of the largest Star Wars toy collection, he's certainly a serious contender. Foster owns almost every single Star Wars toy released since 1977 and while he doesn't say how many toys he owns in total, he estimates that he has over 2,800 3 3/4 inch action figures alone.
There are seven other people with hobbies that go above and beyond the call of duty in this list from Oddee. Link
"Fano flow" is a term used for some of the strange ways non-Newtonian fluids move. From the YouTube page:
In the so-called ''tubeless'' syphon, a fluid can be made to flow up through an unsupported liquid column above the free surface of the liquid. One way to achieve this is by slowly withdrawing and raising a syringe from a pool of the liquid below.
In the so-called ''open channel'' syphon, after initially commencing the flow of an elastic fluid from say a beaker, the fluid will continue to flow up the side and over the lip of the beaker for sometime despite the level of its free surface having fallen considerably below the top of the beaker. In this way the slightest spill will cause the beaker to partly empty in what is commonly refereed to as a ''self-syphoning'' effect.
A homeowner in Toronto called a wildlife control company when he saw a unidentified white animal in the garage. Brad Gates of Gates Wildlife Control thought it might be a skunk from the description. The crew found a litter of raccoons -three of them albinos! The kits appeared to be somewhere around six to eight weeks old.
Gates said two albinos were found in the attic; their mother was found taking a "break" from the heat of the attic on the rooftop.
Albino raccoons are uncommon - about one in 500,000, according to Gates' research. Three in one litter - that's extremely rare.
"I think you take that (statistic) and it's exponential as to the odds of that happening," said Gates.
His company has only encountered two cases of albino raccoons in its 27-year history, and each time it was only one in the litter.
The litter was put in a box on the roof, where the mother raccoon can retrieve them. Link -via Arbroath
Zazzle has a generator in which you can create custom pet cartoons that look like yours, or like a pet you'd rather have. The cats you see here are mine: Biscuit, Savannah, Marshmallow, and Gogo, although they aren't to scale. You can also customize a dog, fish, reptiles, birds, and some others. Link
Another in an endless series of poems evolved from E.A. Poe’s original
by Jennifer Sosnowski University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary, O’er the latest volume of some scientific lore, While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of someone gently rapping at my lab’ratory door. “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my office door; Only this, and nothing more.”
Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December, Each lab’ratory member left some data on my door. Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for my low grant score For the lab that sought to study Docking Protein v-SNARE-4; Penniless forevermore.
I felt I would remember later strange sounds from each incubator Oh, they filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before; So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating, “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my office door, Some late visitor entreating entrance at my office door. This it is, and nothing more.”
Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating, then, no longer, “Sir,” said I, “or madam, your forgiveness I implore; But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping, And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my lab’ratory door, That I scarce was sure I heard you.” Here I opened wide the door—. Darkness there, and nothing more
There are countless superstitions involving cats, most of them focused on the bad luck that they supposedly bring. In Japan and other Asian countries, however, the cat is a symbol of good fortune.
THE BECKONING CAT
If you've ever walked in to a Chinese or Japanese business and noticed a figure of a cat with an upraised paw, you've met Maneki Neko (pronounced MAH-ne-key NAY-ko). "The Beckoning Cat" is displayed to invite good fortune, a tradition that began with a legendary Japanese cat many centuries ago.
According to legend, that cat, called Tama, lived in a poverty-stricken temple in 17th-century Tokyo. The temple priest often scolded Tama for contributing nothing to the upkeep of the temple. Then one day, a powerful feudal lord named Naotaka Ii was caught in a rainstorm near the temple while returning home from a hunting trip. As the lord took refuge under a big tree, he noticed Tama with her paw raised, beckoning to him, inviting him to enter the temple's front gate. Intrigued, the lord decided to get a closer look at this remarkable cat. Suddenly, the tree was struck by lightning and fell on the exact spot where Naotaka had just been standing. Tama had saved his life! In gratitude, Naotaka made the little temple his family temple and became its benefactor. Tama and the priest never went hungry again. After a long life, Tama was buried with great respect at the renamed Goutokuji temple. Goutokuji still exists, housing dozens of statues of Beckoning Cat.
(Image credit: Flickr user Shoko Muraguchi) Gotokuji temple still has a calico cat, as well as many Maneki Nekos.
Figures of Maneki Neko became popular in Japan under shogun rule in the 19th century. At that time, most "houses of amusement" (brothels) and many private homes had a good-luck shelf filled with lucky charms, many in the shape of male sexual organs. When Japan began to associate with Western countries in the 1860s, the charms began to be seen as vulgar. In an effort to modernize Japan and improve its image, Emperor Meiji outlawed the production, sale, and display of phallic talismans in 1872. People still wanted lucky objects, however, so the less controversial Maneki Neko figures became popular.
Eventually the image of the lucky cat spread to China and then to Southeast Asia. How popular did the Beckoning Cat become? In Thailand, the ancient goddess of prosperity, Nang Kwak, was traditionally shown kneeling with a money bag on her lap. Now she's usually shown making the cat's raised-hand gesture and occasionally sporting a cat's tail.
In Europe and North America, images of Maneki Neko can be found in Asian-owned businesses, such as Chinese restaurants. And back in Japan, a new cat icon adorns clothing, toys, and various objects: Hello Kitty -a literal translation of Maneki Neko, or "Beckoning Cat."
MANEKI NEKO FACTS
* Sometime Maneki Neko has his left paw up, sometimes the right. The left paw signifies that the business owner is inviting in customers. The right invites in money or good fortune.
* Most Maneki Nekos are calico cats; the male calico is so rare it's considered lucky in Japan. But Maneki Neko may be white, black, red, gold, or pink to ward off illness, bad luck, or evil spirits and bring financial success, good luck, health, and love.
* Maneki Nekos made in Japan show the palm of the paw, imitating the manner in which Japanese people beckon. American Maneki Nekos show the back of the paw, reflecting the way we gesture "come here."
* The higher Maneki Neko holds his paw, the more good fortune is being invited.
If you see mudflaps in the US, they would most likely be on a large truck and decorated with a silhouette of the "mudflap girl" or Yosemite Sam. In India, a mudflap is an opportunity to share one's favorite film! Meena Kadri has been collecting photographs of decorated mudflaps on rickshaws and cycle carts in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India for five years. Her Flickr set contains 54 mudflap displays of actors and scenes from Bollywood films. Link -via Everlasting Blort
In July, Sotheby's of London will auction off the only handwritten Jane Austen manuscript in private hands. It's the unfinished novel The Watsons, which some say Austen might have completed if it weren't so close to her own family life.
The Watsons manuscript shows how Austen's other manuscripts must have looked. It also shines an interesting light on how she worked. Austen took a piece of paper, cut it in two and then folded over each half to make eight-page booklets. Then she would write, small neat handwriting leaving little room for corrections – of which there are many. "You can really see the mind at work with all the corrections and revisions," said Heaton.
At one stage she crosses so much out that she starts a page again and pins it in. It seems, in Austen's mind, her manuscript had to look like a book. "Writers often fall into two categories," said Heaton. "The ones who fall into a moment of great inspiration and that's it and then you have others who endlessly go back and write and tinker. Austen is clearly of the latter variety. It really is a wonderful, evocative document."
The Watsons was written in 1804, not a hugely happy time for Austen professionally – she had one novel rejected and another bought by a publisher who failed to print it.
The manuscript is expected to bring between £200,000 and £300,000. Link -via Holy Kaw!
A hit-and-run accident five years ago left Rob Summers paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors said he would never walk again, but thanks to a new type of therapy, he can now stand on his own.
Summers' injury disrupted the nerve pathway that normally triggers walking. Researchers implanted an electrical stimulator at the base of the spine that - along with special exercises - allowed his legs to move without input from the brain.
"I stand about an hour a day," Summers says. "I can move my toes ankles knees, hips all on command."
He's also made other meaningful progress - regaining bladder and sexual function. But he's still wheelchair-bound, and doctors cannot say whether he'll walk again on his own. But, every day, he remembers the first time he stood up.
"It's that moment that continues to give me the hope for tomorrow, and the future for this project - and helping out millions of other people in my same situation," Summer says.
Summers' therapy is in the experimental stage, and the latest results are published in the journal Lancet. Link -via Geekologie
Bran Thompson made this video from footage taken at the annual Holi Festival (previously at Neatorama) at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. The song is "Optimist" is by Zoe Keating. -Thanks, Brian!
In the What Is It? game this week, Porkhurst was the first of many with the correct answer. This object is a lunar tong, designed for picking up moon rocks! However, he did not select a shirt. Swami won a t-shirt for the funniest answer:
If you are familiar with “Treasure Island”, you will recall the luau when John Silver is barbecuing ribs and he almost burned off his beard rearranging the fire, that’s what inspired him to invent the device pictured above: Long Tong Silvers.
We use the term "snake oil" for anything promoted as a cure-all that doesn't work, whether it is medicine or political policy. But back in the 1860s, Chinese immigrants who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad used oil from the Chinese water snake to treat sore muscles, and it worked!
A 2007 story in Scientific American explains that California neurophysiology researcher Richard Kunin made the connection between Chinese water snakes and omega-3 fatty acids in the 1980s.
“Kunin visited San Francisco’s Chinatown to buy such snake oil and analyze it. According to his 1989 analysis published in the Western Journal of Medicine, Chinese water-snake oil contains 20 percent eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), one of the two types of omega-3 fatty acids most readily used by our bodies. Salmon, one of the most popular food sources of omega-3s, contains a maximum of 18 percent EPA, lower than that of snake oil.”
However, it wasn’t until several years after Kunin’s research that American scientists discovered that omega-3s are vital for human metabolism. Not only do they sooth inflammation in muscles and joints, but also, they can help “cognitive function and reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and even depression.”
So how did "snake oil" come to mean a scam? The rest of the story is at Collectors Weekly. Link -Thanks, Ben!
Twenty years after the Cold War ended, more and more classified documents from that era are being released, which means we are gradually learning about what really went on at the infamous Area 51. It was a serious game of concealing experimental aircraft (code named OXCART) from Soviet spy satellites. The military knew when the satellites were scheduled to pass over, and would hurry and hide the planes in sheds before they could be photographed.
It turned out that even laborious hooting and scooting weren't enough. Spies had learned that the Soviets had a drawing of an OXCART plane—obtained, it was assumed, via an infrared satellite.
As a plane sat in the hot desert, its shadow would create a relatively cool silhouette, visible in infrared even after the plane had been moved inside.
"It's like a parking lot," Barnes told National Geographic News. "After all the cars have left you can still see how many were parked there [in infrared] because of the difference in ground temperatures."
To thwart the infrared satellites, Area 51 crews began constructing fanciful fake planes out of cardboard and other mundane materials, to cast misleading shadows for the Soviets to ponder.
Find out more about the cat-and-mouse game at Area 51 in this article from NatGeo News. Link -Thanks, Marilyn!
(Image credit: Roadrunners Internationale via Pangloss Films)
The Bible says in Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." That never stopped people from trying to predict when the world will end. Smithsonian has a list of ten predicted apocalypses from ancient times to 2009 (when this list was first published).
An Assyrian clay tablet dating to around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”
The world hasn't changed much since then; everyone still wants to write a book. Link
Barak Hardley decided to draw all the presidents. Some he drew more than once, some are actually sculpture, but these are not your everyday presidential portraits. He drew Jimmy Carter as a vampire, Richard Nixon as Mr. Potato Head (the view from the rear is even more interesting), and Warren G. Harding as a samurai warrior. See all the illustrations at 50yearplan. Link -via Everlasting Blort
One way mammals are different from most animals is their large brains, in relation to the rest of the body. A new study says that the larger brains were developed for the sense of smell. CT scans of 190-million-year-old mammal fossils indicate that much of the the brain growth was in the area dedicated to the sense of smell.
"We studied the outside features of these fossils for years," said Tim Rowe, professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences and director of the Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin, and lead author of the new study. "But until now, studying the brains meant destroying the fossils. With CT technology, we can have our cake and eat it, too."
According to the study, other factors leading to larger brains in early mammals included greater tactile sensitivity and enhanced motor coordination. Fossils of some of the earliest mammals, such as Hadrocodium, bore full coats of fur, explaining the need for enhanced tactile sensitivity.
Researchers scanned a dozen early mammal fossil and more than 200 current species over ten years for this study. Link -via Geeks Are Sexy
Clive Thompson gave in and chatted with “babygurl01475,” who had been trying to engage him for a couple of days. He spoke of technological philosophy while "she" tried to get his credit card number. Apparently, babygurl01475 was bored to death. Link -via Boing Boing
Sheng Xianhui of Kunming, China went into a hospital to have gall stones removed. A week after surgery, his wife noticed a tattoo on his rear end. Sheng claims that the staff at Yunnan Stone Disease Hospital tattooed his backside with characters meaning “stone disease” while he was in surgery.
The hospital has now called police to try to evict Sheng - but he has welcomed the police involvement and asked them to investigate.
"I'm not leaving," he said. "I'm worried that if I go out for even half an hour, the hospital will claim I had the tattoo done outside.
"But even if I wanted a tattoo, I wouldn't want those characters and I wouldn't want it on that part of my body."
The hospital staff blames the marks on a possible allergic reaction. Link -via Dave Barry
A litter of kittens was dumped at a concrete factory in Redruth, Cornwall, England. They were taken to an animal shelter named Cats Protection. The staff fed the kittens and washed them, but one is still stained pink -and will be until her fur grows out. So they named her Pink Panther!
She was rescued by workers along with her two sisters and a tom cat - called Clouseau, Dusty and Cerise. It is thought that they came into contact with red pigment used in concrete manufacturing which had caused their unusual appearance.
The dying is less obvious in three of the cats but Pink Panther has a creamy fur so she appears bright pink.
Attempts have been made to wash the dye out because different variations of red are seen as 'danger colours' to animals but they failed.
Instead, Cats Protection manager Claire Rowe says they will have to wait until the pink fur has grown out.
She said:'They are absolutely adorable, but Pink Panther is probably the pick of the bunch. It's amazing. Until we washed her we had no idea what her natural colour was.
When gasoline was rationed or nonexistent during World War II, many cars were converted to run on firewood. The trend is making a comeback of sorts as gas prices rise higher and higher. See some of these cars and find out how it's done at Low-Tech Magazine. Link -via the Presurfer
Cog railways can travel up steep hills and mountains because of an extra rail underneath with teeth. Cogwheels on the train itself fit into those teeth and keep it pushing upward. Some of these railways have been in service over a hundred years in the Alps and the Rockies! Take a closer look at how they work and see some spectacular photographs at Dark Roasted Blend. Link
Redditor suziecreamcheese made this quilt for a baby shower. Each quilt block is a representation of a Beatles album cover. I think she nailed the White Album, don't you? Link -via Blame It On The Voices
Since the dawn of time, people have found nifty ways to clean up after the bathroom act. The most common solution was simply to grab what was at hand: coconuts, shells, snow, moss, hay, leaves, grass, corncobs, sheep’s wool—and, later, thanks to the printing press—newspapers, magazines, and pages of books. The ancient Greeks used clay and stone. The Romans, sponges and salt water. But the idea of a commercial product designed solely to wipe one’s bum? That started about 150 years ago, right here in the U.S.A. In less than a century, Uncle Sam’s marketing genius turned something disposable into something indispensable.
How Toilet Paper Got on a Roll
The first products designed specifically to wipe one’s nethers were aloe-infused sheets of manila hemp dispensed from Kleenex-like boxes. They were invented in 1857 by a New York entrepreneur named Joseph Gayetty, who claimed his sheets prevented hemorrhoids. Gayetty was so proud of his therapeutic bathroom paper that he had his name printed on each sheet. But his success was limited. Americans soon grew accustomed to wiping with the Sears Roebuck catalog, and they saw no need to spend money on something that came in the mail for free.
Toilet paper took its next leap forward in 1890, when two brothers named Clarence and E. Irvin Scott popularized the concept of toilet paper on a roll. The Scotts’ brand became more successful than Gayetty’s medicated wipes, in part because they built a steady trade selling toilet paper to hotels and drugstores. But it was still an uphill battle to get the public to openly buy the product, largely because Americans remained embarrassed by bodily functions. In fact, the Scott brothers were so ashamed of the nature of their work that they didn’t take proper credit for their innovation until 1902.
“No one wanted to ask for it by name,” says Dave Praeger, author of Poop Culture: How America Is Shaped by Its Grossest National Product. “It was so taboo that you couldn’t even talk about the product.” By 1930, the German paper company Hakle began using the tag line, “Ask for a roll of Hakle and you won’t have to say toilet paper!”
As time passed, toilet tissues slowly became an American staple. But widespread acceptance of the product didn’t officially occur until a new technology demanded it. At the end of the 19th century, more and more homes were being built with sit-down flush toilets tied to indoor plumbing systems. And because people required a product that could be flushed away with minimal damage to the pipes, corncobs and moss no longer cut it. In no time, toilet paper ads boasted that the product was recommended by both doctors and plumbers.
The Strength of Going Soft
In the early 1900s, toilet paper was still being marketed as a medicinal item. But in 1928, the Hoberg Paper Company tried a different tack. On the advice of its ad men, the company introduced a brand called Charmin and fitted the product with a feminine logo that depicted a beautiful woman. The genius of the campaign was that by evincing softness and femininity, the company could avoid talking about toilet paper’s actual purpose. Charmin was enormously successful, and the tactic helped the brand survive the Great Depression. (It also helped that, in 1932, Charmin began marketing economy-size packs of four rolls.) Decades later, the dainty ladies were replaced with babies and bear cubs—advertising vehicles that still stock the aisles today.
By the 1970s, America could no longer conceive of life without toilet paper. Case in point: In December 1973, Tonight Show host Johnny Carson joked about a toilet paper shortage during his opening monologue. But America didn’t laugh. Instead, TV watchers across the country ran out to their local grocery stores and bought up as much of the stuff as they could. In 1978, a TV Guide poll named Mr. Whipple—the affable grocer who implored customers, “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”—the third best-known man in America, behind former President Richard Nixon and the Rev. Billy Graham.
Rolling the World
Currently, the United States spends more than $6 billion a year on toilet tissue—more than any other nation in the world. Americans, on average, use 57 squares a day and 50 lbs. a year. Even still, the toilet paper market in the United States has largely plateaued. The real growth in the industry is happening in developing countries. There, it’s booming. Toilet paper revenues in Brazil alone have more than doubled since 2004. The radical upswing in sales is believed to be driven by a combination of changing demographics, social expectations, and disposable income.
“The spread of globalization can kind of be measured by the spread of Western bathroom practices,” says Praeger. When average citizens in a country start buying toilet paper, wealth and consumerism have arrived. It signifies that people not only have extra cash to spend, but they’ve also come under the influence of Western marketing.
America Without Toilet Paper
Even as the markets boom in developing nations, toilet paper manufacturers find themselves needing to charge more per roll to make a profit. That’s because production costs are rising. During the past few years, pulp has become more expensive, energy costs are rising, and even water is becoming scarce. Toilet paper companies may need to keep hiking up their prices. The question is, if toilet paper becomes a luxury item, can Americans live without it?
The truth is that we did live without it, for a very long time. And even now, a lot of people do. In Japan, the Washlet—a toilet that comes equipped with a bidet and an air-blower—is growing increasingly popular. And all over the world, water remains one of the most common methods of self-cleaning. Many places in India, the Middle East, and Asia, for instance, still depend on a bucket and a spigot. But as our economy continues to circle the drain, will Americans part with their beloved toilet paper in order to adopt more money-saving measures? Or will we keep flushing our cash away? Praeger, for one, believes a toilet-paper apocalypse is hardly likely. After all, the American marketing machine is a powerful thing.
The article above, written by Linda Rodriguez, is reprinted with permission from the Jul/Aug 2009 issue of mental_floss magazine.
Be sure to visit mental_floss' website and blog for more fun stuff!
Get this: According to the 2010 Census report, ten of America's 100 largest cities have names that starts with a "C". How many can you name in five minutes? That's the challenge of today's Lunchtime Quiz at mental_floss. I only got five of them (and would have never come up with the other five). Maybe you will get them all! Link