Miss Cellania's Blog Posts

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The Kitten Up a Telephone Pole

In 1909, there was a policeman at the 37th precinct in the Bronx who was a former sailor. He apparently annoyed his co-workers by bragging about his physical abilities back in his seafaring days, when he wasn't quite so stout. Bill O’Malley was called out to prove his stories when a distraught Mrs. Erickson came into the station to report an abused kitten.

“It was a shame, Captain, an outrage” she said. “You must send your men right away and have it stopped.” Her tears reportedly flowed so heavily that the captain could barely make sense of her words.

“Calm yourself, madam, and speak slowly, and I will help you,” he told her. Mrs. Erickson told him about the little kitten on top of a telephone pole, where it had perched since the day before.

“Wicked boys are throwing pieces of ice and sticks at it,” she said in between sobs. “If you don’t send your men right away to stop them I will climb the pole myself and bring down that kitten if it breaks my neck.”

Captain Post called for Policeman O’Malley, knowing he had once been a sailor. “You’re always bragging how you used to be a sailorman and loved to lay aloft in a howling gale,” the captain said. “Now, here’s your chance. If you can climb like you say you can, go with this lady and shin up that pole and save that kitten.”

O'Malley was game to give it a try, which you can read about at The Hatching Cat.


The History of a Condemned Prisoner's Last Meal

Executing condemned convicts is task steeped in tradition, in order to kept it solemn, efficient, and fair (although many would argue with the last part). One part of the execution process we've become familiar with through movies and newspaper accounts is the last meal, in which a doomed convict can have anything he wants to eat. There's even a blog about them. How far back does that tradition go? It's possible that it may have grown out of feasts for Roman gladiators the night before battle.

Things began to pick up steam considerably on this front around the 16th century, however. Or, at least, things appear to have. It is entirely possible that such courtesies were widely granted before this to even the poor, with documented evidence of it simply not surviving. On that note, things like the printing press’ invention in the 15th century began making documented history of rather mundane events like the executions of random Joe Citizens more, well, documented. Thus, it may or may not be coincidence that accounts of such courtesies started to pop up more and more around the 16th century and progressing from there.

Whatever the case, by the 18th century, particularly in places like England, such practices were definitely around and relatively common. For example, in London it was common to allow the condemned to enjoy a meal with various guests, generally including the executioner, on the eve of the execution. Further, there is record of Newgate Prison death row inmates being allowed to stop at a pub on their march to their death at the Tyburn Fair gallows. At the pub, they would typically share drinks with their guards and executioner.

A prisoner's last meal before execution was treated differently over time and in different nations -and even different states in the US. Read what Today I Found Out found out about the last meal before execution.

(Image credit: jeffreyw)


Sliding Through the Monte Carlo Rally 2020

In a regular traffic video, you might feel a little guilty gawking at drivers slipping and sliding on ice. These drivers live for this sort of thing. And the photographers recording their antics might have a death wish, too, or maybe just a need for adrenaline. At least they don't encounter drivers coming from the opposite direction. This video was recorded at the 2020 Monte Carlo Rally held in France over the weekend. The course is deliberately designed to cover wet and dry roads, snow, ice, and twisting mountain routes. This video is from just one curve; there are plenty more from the rally at YouTube.  -via Digg


Fashion as Literature

Louis Vuitton's Pre-Fall 2020 Look Book has taken the form of book covers. The fashion firm's creative director Nicolas Ghesquière has created a series of book covers featuring the style of well-known paperback books and set celebrities on the covers in new Louis Vuitton clothing. The books hint at science fiction, YA, horror, fantasy, gothic, and adventure stories inside.

“Fashion is a novel,” the brand claims in the look-book notes. And although the faux covers and posters draw inspiration from the ’70s and ’80s, the fashion is a mash-up of past, present, and future styles. Considering that Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for menswear, predicted that the future of fashion means “expressing your knowledge and personal style with vintage,” it makes sense for the brand’s vision as a whole.

And moon boots. We'll all be wearing moon boots again. See all 24 of the covers at the Cut. -via Metafilter

(Images credit: Louis Vuitton)


Manhattan Bystanders Lift SUV to Free Trapped Woman

New York City residents are known for ignoring each other, but that's just a method of maintaining a sense of privacy in crowded living conditions. When the situation calls for it, strangers will band together to do what needs to be done. Sunday afternoon, a traffic accident pinned a 25-year-old woman underneath a car.

The woman was crossing Delancey in the crosswalk, police said, when a 65-year-old woman made a right turn from Norfolk St. and hit her, then struck a car stopped at a traffic light, causing a chain reaction of minor fender-benders.

The younger woman was pinned under the SUV. Video posted on Twitter shows one bystander run up to the rear wheel, as two more rush to help. More and more people crowd the heavy vehicle, surrounding it as they lift up the driver’s side to pull the woman to safety.

The woman suffered some pain and bruising, and was taken to a hospital to be checked out. -via reddit


The Dad Joke Cat

This is Chesnut. He is a photogenic cat who has his own Instagram account. His human, ChazaySSB, posted these pics of Chestnut smiling for the camera on reddit last week, and they became an instant meme. See, it looks as if Chesnut is telling a joke that he thinks is uproariously funny. So everyone began putting words in his mouth. Here are a few examples- click to the right to see them.

There's always another bad Dad joke that Chesnut can tell. See 21 of them at Bored Panda.


Stannard Rock Light: The Loneliest Place in The World

In 1835, Captain Charles C. Stannard was surprised to find a shallow reef way out in the middle of Lake Superior. Something had to be done to warn lake traffic away from the mountain underneath the surface, but it took years and patient engineering to build a lighthouse. The Stannard Rock Light stands 40 kilometers from the nearest island, and even further from the mainland, making it the most distant lighthouse in the world. It also earned the title “the loneliest place in the world.”  

Life in this remote outpost was lonely and harsh. The keepers were not allowed to have wives, girlfriends and families, which increased homesickness. The men spent time playing cribbage and ate whatever came out of the can. Often, they went days without speaking to each other. To combat the terrible isolation, the men were rotated off the Rock, typically after three weeks. Louis Wilks, who was the lighthouse keeper for twenty long years from 1936 to 1956, spent a record 99 consecutive days on the Rock—a feat no other keeper were able to even approach. The solitude was so crushing that many keepers had no idea what they signed up for until they arrived at the Rock. One keeper threatened to swim ashore if a boat did not come immediately to get him. Another one—as the legend goes—became deranged and had to carried off the Rock in a straitjacket.

You might not think that three weeks on a rock is all that bad, but there was no scenery to look at, much less internet access. The work was hard and dangerous, and sometimes the scheduled boats did not show up. The lighthouse was manned from 1882 to 1962. Read about the hard life on Stannard Rock Light at Amusing Planet. -via Strange Company

(Image credit: Lt. Kristopher Thornburg, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder)


How A War-Torn Country Became the World's Second Largest Producer of Coffee

Brazil produces more coffee than any other country in the world. Who comes in second? Not Colombia, as you might think. Nor any other nation in South America. The second biggest coffee producer is Vietnam.

For visitors and locals alike, it’s clear that coffee is an incredibly important and integral part of modern Vietnamese culture. The plant was introduced by the French in 1857, and, when it was discovered that the central highlands of Vietnam provided excellent growing conditions, production ramped up exponentially. Small-scale production shifted to plantations at the beginning of the 20th century, but the industry stalled after a century of growth just prior to and during the Vietnam War.

In the two decades following the war, the coffee industry experienced an incredible rebound, becoming Vietnam’s chief export as well as the second biggest coffee exporter in the world (Brazil is No. 1). It’s also the main global supplier of Robusta coffee, the bean used widely in instant coffee and espressos. Economically, the coffee sector accounts for around 3 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and provides jobs for almost 3 million people.

While most of Vietnam's coffee is exported, the drink has become part of Vietnamese culture, and it's served very differently than what Americans are used to. Read about coffee in Vietnam at Coffe or Die.
-via Nag on the Lake

(Image credit: (WT-shared) Shoestring)


Milk: White Poison or Healthy Drink?

Milk has a peculiar history. It's baby food for mammals, but humans continue to drink it way past infancy. We've learned to make cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream with it. And we drink milk from species other than our own, which is all kinds of weird. Is there any harm in that? The answer, of course, is "it depends." Which is the answer to pretty much all dietary controversies. Kurzgesagt gives us the state of the research about drinking milk. -via reddit


The Economics of All-You-Can-Eat Buffets

A buffet line can be tempting, and they are particularly handy when trying to expose young children to a variety of foods, but there comes a time when you have to ask yourself "Can I really eat $20 worth of food in one sitting?" A lot of people take an all-you-can-eat offer as a challenge, and it's a wonder that the restaurant can make any money at all. You better believe they have the numbers and risks down to a science. For example, they save on staffing compared to a full-service restaurant.

Self-service allows a buffet to bypass a wait staff, and all-you-can-eat dishes (which are generally less complex and prepped in enormous batches) can be made by a “skeleton crew” of line cooks.

“At a typical restaurant, a cook can service 25 customers per hour — and that’s at best,” says Joe Ericsson, a managing partner at the food consultancy Restaurant Owner. “In the same amount of time, a single buffet cook might be able to prep enough food for 200 people.”

Because margins are so slim, buffets rely on high foot traffic: At Golden Corral, a buffet chain with 498 locations in 42 states, dining floors are 5k-square-feet and seat 475 people. On a typical Saturday, it’s not uncommon for 900 diners to come through the door.

The amount of food served per customer is also broken down, with diners categorized by how profitable they are. Read the statistics of how buffets make money at the Hustle. -via Damn Interesting

(Image credit: Zachary Crockett/The Hustle)


How To Survive A Plane Crash

We think of plane crashes as long drops from high altitudes that leave no survivors. But plane crashes, as rare as they are, happen in all kinds of ways, and many are survivable. In fact, 95% of those involved in plane accidents survive. So you may as well learn what to do in that situation instead of assuming you're a goner. -via Digg


Toy Story 3 IRL

In the summer of 2011, brothers Morgan and Mason McGrew (previously at Neatorama) had an idea to shoot their own stop-motion version of Toy Story 3. They were just kids then, but they jumped in and never gave up on the project. Joe magazine tells their story.

And yes, these were toys that Morgan and Mason had played with when they were young. “We had some of the toys from when we were kids,” Morgan tells me over email. “Others we found elsewhere - school, day-cares, parks, etc.” It gives the film a whole extra level – when the Woody and Buzz memorably face the existential crisis of their owners growing up and no longer being played with, some of these are real discarded toys that have actually had that happen to them.

Their film is a combination of various techniques, and has all been shot on iPhones. Woody, Buzz and the rest mostly move in stop-motion, with the brothers having customised and modified the off-the-shelf toys to be poseable for their animation needs.

The human characters are played by their friends, family and school teachers. Morgan plays Andy, and Mason is grown-up garbage man Sid. Kids from a local day-care fill in as extras.

The result of that work is a shot-for-shot recreation of the Pixar film. The eight-year production was completed about a month ago. McGrew and McGrew sought permission from Disney before posting the finished movie on YouTube Saturday. If you want to watch it, continue reading.

Continue reading


The Dolly Parton Meme Spreads Laughs

Dolly Parton posted a collage of four images on Instagram and started a meme. The original caption is "Get you a woman who can do it all." However, people were impressed at how well she pegged the different moods of the various photo-based social media platforms. It wasn't long before others joined in.

The funniest are of actors and other celebrities who have a bank of roles or phases to draw on. I really like this one. The pictures don't even have to be human to be funny.

Anyone can join in by using their imagination.

See more of these at Bored Panda, or follow the Dolly Parton Challenge on Twitter, Twitter, or Instagram.


School of Fish Working Together as One

This isn't a sea monster walking the bottom of the ocean- it's a school of juvenile striped eel catfish working in unison to look menacing enough to ward off predators. This was filmed off the coast of Bali. The Kid Should See This has more:

Try rewatching the video, picking one fish and following it the entire time. Then pick another fish and watch the video again. The juvenile striped eel catfish seem to cycle through positions within the school as the entire swarm moves forward.

I was captivated by the ones at the bottom, that seem like pixels in an animation of a creature walking on thick legs. -via Kottke


The History of the Two-Day Weekend

Before the 19th century, most workers put in a six-day week. It was only the influence of the church that mandated the Sabbath as a non-working day. In Britain, there were some people who knew that six days a week was more than enough work.    

For much of the 19th century, for example, skilled artisan workers adopted their own work rhythms as they often hired workshop space and were responsible for producing items for their buyer on a weekly basis. This gave rise to the practice of “Saint Monday”. While Saint Monday mimicked the religious Saint Day holidays, it was in fact an entirely secular practice, instigated by workers to provide an extended break in the working week.

They worked intensively from Tuesday to finish products by Saturday night so they could then enjoy Sunday as a legitimate holiday but also took Mondays off to recover from Saturday night and the previous day’s excesses. By the mid-19th century, Saint Monday was a popular institution in British society. So much so that commercial leisure – like music halls, theatres and singing saloons – staged events on this unofficial holiday.

But taking Monday off wasn't universal, nor was it mandated. Campaigns arose to make Saturday a half-day, and then a full day off, which was championed by the leisure industry as well as trade unions. Read the story of how the two-day weekend came into being at the Conversation. -via Damn Interesting

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