This Week at Neatorama

School begins Monday for the last four daughters in the family. We have a senior, a junior, and two sophomores in high school, and my niece will be a freshman, although at a different school. We've already had the great sisterly clothing swap, and this year I am no longer doing their laundry, because I have no idea what belongs to who anyway. One kid has a political science paper due the first day, and another has three advanced placement classes in the first term. This year is going to be an adventure. Wish me luck. Here's what's been going on this past week at Neatorama.

Zeon Santos introduced us to 11 Independent Artists at San Diego Comic Con 2013.

Jill Harness told us about 5 Sitcoms You Might Not Know Were Based on Real People or Events.

Eddie Deezen contributed A Few Facts You May Not Know About William Shatner.

Alex posted some really neat illustrations on the Spotlight blog in A Book Can Change Your Life.

Die-Hard Chicken, the story of Mike the Headless Chicken came from Uncle John's Bathroom Reader.

The Annals of Improbable Research gave us Experiments in Yawning.

The Perfect Record: 19-0. Harriet Tubman's tips for taking slaves to freedom was from mental_floss magazine.

Hy Conrad brought us another Whodunit: Bell, Booke, or Kendal?

David Israel posed another edition of Questions In Need of Answers. We got a lot of information about the good things in life: pizza and videos games! If there's a nagging question you'd like other Neatoramanauts to answer, let us know, and we might use it.

Hey! Have you heard about the NeatoShop's Dream Picnic Pin to Win Contest? It's a great way to practice using Pinterest if you're new to that social site, and you could win all kinds of neat stuff from the NeatoShop! If you're not on Pinterest already, this gives you a great excuse to jump in and start. You've got plenty of time, because the contest will be open until August 25th, but you'll want to get started as soon as you can.

In the What Is It? game, the mystery tool is a probe for testing corn. It was thrust into a corn crib or other container and then rotated to scrape some kernels off the ears, which were then tested for temperature, moisture, quality, etc., similar to patent number 2,184,472. The first person who guessed that was Craig Clayton, who wins a t-shirt for his efforts! The funniest answer this week came from Jeff Snider, who guessed it was a hypodermic needle for whale doctors (now, that's what you call a veterinary specialty)! Unfortunately, he did not select a t-shirt. See the other mystery items of the week and the answers at the What Is It? blog.

Last week I neglected to mention a new feature you should know about. Over on the right sidebar, we now have a list of the five Most Popular posts, which you can click and switch to the five Most Commented posts. That way you can find out what other people are reading right now and where the conversations are happening, so you can jump in with your two cents! Better check often, because they'll change before you know it.

The post with the most comments for the whole week was Questions In Need of Answers. No surprise there. That was followed by The Camp Gyno and The Endurance of Science Fiction.

The comment of the week came from Barking Bud, who pulled up the perfect video to go with the post Russian 1916 Wooden Aircraft Carrier? You'll just have to go see it.

The most popular post was 5 Sitcoms You Might Not Know Were Based on Real People or Events. In second place was LEGO Librarians, followed by A Few Facts You May Not Know About William Shatner.

The post that earned the most ♥s was What Bears Do in the Woods, followed by American Officer Writes a Letter to His Son on Hitler's Personal Stationery. We had a bunch of mostly animal-related posts tied for third place.

The most emailed post was What Bears Do in the Woods. Because everyone knows at least one librarian, LEGO Librarians was second, and Life-Size TIE Fighter was third.

Looking ahead to next week: It's SHARK WEEK! The shark hat on the left is from the NeatoShop, where you'll find more sharks. To get youself in the mood, may I suggest reading the article The Ten Weirdest Sharks Ever. We've got some neat shark things planned for the coming week, too, plus our regular roundup of the the neatest things on the internet, so be here!

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I had something similar years ago for a high school European history class, that for a variety of reasons was a optional, limited to only one ~30 student class a year, and only effectively available for sophomores. Additionally, to squeeze the class into our schedules, we had to be exempted from some history topics on the state curriculum for ancient history, and medieval history was covered through summer reading, along with another book more relevant to the course to make sure everyone coming in was taking the class seriously.

A few other classes I didn't take at my high school did similar things, but it was one of those oddities that got easier once I got to a university. At the university, with everyone's schedules being in flux until the first week of classes, and the bookstore always messing up stocks of needed books, no one dared to require any reading before the first day of class (they would just make you read it over the first weekend instead...).
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I had to do this in high school for To Kill a Mockingbird. We had a quiz the first day of school. I am sure there were many people who thought "I'll read it in the beginning of summer and get it over" and some who just didn't do it. I procrastinated, waited to the last couple days before school because it was summer vacation and I was lazy. I was pointed out by the teacher as having the highest score in the class and that I was an example of the type of student she hoped everyone would be. I felt bad because I am sure there were students who had read it, and had forgotten some of it over the summer, but were ultimately more serious about it than I was.
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I thought it was brilliant. She read the assigned book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, on vacation (we had to stop and buy another copy, because her sister got hooked on it), thought about it for a week, did some extra research, and wrote several drafts in July. I'm sure half the class won't have it done, and others will have waited until the last minute. Only the few true scholars will be ready for the quiz, and the teacher will be able to know who is serious about the class right from the start.
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