It's the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “Scooby Doo, Where Are You?” That’s right, the Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby have been setting traps, being danger prone, dropping glasses, making gigantic sandwiches and solving mysteries for a half-century. But originally the show was going to be VERY different. Plus: Lake Lure, NC is hosting the Dirty Dancing Festival starting today. If you go, I hope you have the time of your life.
“Like, yeah. We’ve been teenagers forever:” The Evolution of Scooby-Doo’s “Meddling Kids” (24 Frames of Silver)
Iwao Takamoto: My Life with a Thousand Characters
Dirty Dancing Festival
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There's work out of the University of Arizona that says solar arrays can be even more efficient if you grow food underneath the panels. And no, the panels don't block the plants from growing by taking all the sun. Plus: Chandler, Arizona is hosting the Rockin' Taco Street Fest, which finally combines the goodness of tacos with lucha libre pro wrestling.
Crops under solar panels can be a win-win (Ars Technica)
Rockin' Taco Street Fest
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Researchers at the University of California, Davis are studying forensic proteomics, which one researcher describes as a way to read DNA when there isn’t DNA to read. Plus: a record shop in Seattle finds a royalty check that belonged to grunge royalty.
Forensic Proteomics, a New Tool for Crime Labs and Anthropology (UC-Davis)
Found in a Record Store: Kurt Cobain’s Royalty Check (Atlas Obscura)
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Around the same time John Fitzgerald Kennedy was rising through the ranks of the US Congress, a guy called John Francis Kennedy decided to put name on the ballot to run for Massachusetts state treasurer. In a few years, there were other John Kennedys trying to win public office in the state. Plus: pitcher Will Smith faces - who else - batter Will Smith.
Seeing double: Congressman Raul Ruiz has a challenger. His name is also Raul Ruiz (Desert Sun)
All about the “other” other JFK (Commonwealth Magazine)
Dodgers catcher Will Smith retired by San Francisco Giants pitcher Will Smith (Los Angeles Times)
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Researchers may have finally solved the long-running mystery of what the Loch Ness Monster is. What Nessie is not is the thing that is in the picture you’ll most likely see when you search for “Loch Ness Monster” on the internet. Plus: scientists think Tyrannosaurus Rex may have had a kind of air conditioner built into its head!
The Legend of Loch Ness (Nova)
Loch Ness monster might actually just be a giant eel, scientists say (USA Today)
T. Rex had an air conditioner in its head, study suggests (Science Daily)
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It’s Spinach Festival weekend in Lenexa, Kansas, a time for games, crafts, music, the world’s largest spinach salad and a visit from noted cartoon spinach addict Popeye the sailor. That’s fitting, since a report in 435 Magazine says it was Popeye’s popularity that helped make Lenexa’s spinach famous in the first place. Plus: can you guess what kind of festival the people of Pie Town, NM are throwing later this month?
How Lenexa became the spinach capital of the world (435 Magazine)
Kansas Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff By Pam Grout
Pietown, NM Pie Festival
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It sure was nice to hear that Jeopardy host Alex Trebek is not only doing well following his cancer treatment, he’s already back at work on a new season of the show! Each day's filming requires hundreds of clues, multiple suit changes and lots of ways to respond to contestants' responses. Plus: the maid of honor at a Texas wedding decides to take the bride's direction to wear what you want to a whole new level.
Alex Trebek Returns to Work on ‘Jeopardy!’ Following Cancer Treatment (Variety)
What Is 50 Crazy Facts About 'Jeopardy!' for $1000? (Mashable)
The Trebek Affirmation Soundboard
Maid of honor turns up to her sister's wedding dressed as a T-REX after being told she could wear 'anything she wanted' (Daily Mail)
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It was on this day in 1682 that an English astronomer, Edmund Halley, observed a particular comet in the sky. He didn't discover it, but he did figure out when it was going to come back - only by then, he wasn't around to see it again. Plus: in the old days comets were believed to be a sign of bad news coming. In one case, that may have actually been right.
Halley's Comet: Facts About the Most Famous Comet (Space.com)
Comets Breed Fear, Fascination and Web Sites (New York Times)
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There are lots of good options for takeout these days, but along with all that deliciousness comes a lot of waste. A company called GO Box is sending out food orders in reusable plastic containers to keep all the single-use stuff out of the garbage. Plus: kudos to Cinotti’s Bakery in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, which has been selling Hurricane Dorian-themed doughnuts ahead of the big storm.
With GO Box, you can have zero-waste takeout (Treehugger)
Hurricane Dorian: Bakery in Jacksonville, Florida and others capitalize with storm-themed doughnuts (Sarasota Herald-Tribune)
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Summer is through, which means the start of our annual time to consume and/or complain about products flavored with pumpkin spice. It was in the mid-90s that this blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves started its rise to power, and there's no stopping it now, really. Plus: did you know that hundreds of years ago pumpkin spice may have given us New York City?
The origins of pumpkin spice and how it became the flavor of fall (Washington Post)
The Dark And Murky History Of Pumpkin Spice (Chicagoist)
How Did Pumpkin Spice Become So Popular? And Why Do We Hate to Love It So Much? (Cooking Light)
‘Pumpkin Spice’ Has Been a Thing for 3,500 Years (History.com)
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The roadside diner is a staple of American travel. And some restaurants make the food a kind of roadside attraction, often by creating meals that are too big to be believed, and often too big to be consumed in one sitting. Plus: the Traveler Restaurant in Connecticut serves food for thought as well as actual food, by giving out books with every meal.
The 18 Most Insane Food Challenges Ever (Buzzfeed)
Traveler Food And Books: A "Novel" Idea (Hartford Courant)
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There are hotels, motels, friends with fold-out couches, house rentals, B&Bs and, in Idaho, a giant potato you can rent. Or, technically, a 28 foot long, 12 foot wide structure built in the shape of a potato. Plus: a man from the UK traveling through Amsterdam learns that an Airbnb listing for a "clean room with a private bathroom" can technically refer to a shipping container next to a port-a-potty.
Unusual places to stay in the USA (Lonely Planet)
Giant potato in Idaho available to rent on Airbnb for $200 a night (Insider)
Amsterdam tourist unwittingly pays for shipping container in Airbnb booking (Sky News)
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There's an unusual train station in southwest Japan to which you can take a train, but you can’t enter the platform from outside; nor can you leave. Plus: the story of an eight year old in Russia who decided it was time to set out on his own and see the world.
Japanese train station with no stops, entrances or exits (Sora News)
Boy, 8, found after leaving home to 'travel the world' (BBC)
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Randal S. Olson developed a computer algorithm to find the shortest, most efficient way to drive through all 48 contiguous United States - 13,699 miles and around 224 hours of driving. Plus: the Race Across America is a more than 3,000 mile road race from Los Angeles to New York on bicycles.
Computing the optimal road trip across the U.S. (Randal S. Olson)
Race Across America
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Dean Nicholson left his job and started a bike trip across the world. While riding through Bosnia, he heard a “desperate meow." So, instead of riding solo, he decided the cat would come along. Plus: if a continental bike trip with a cat isn’t your cup of tea, how about a boat trip with a chicken?
Cat travels the world on a bicycle after backpacker adopts the stray kitten and customises bike to take her with him (The Daily Mail)
Boat trip with a chicken (The Guardian)
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The Derry, New Hampshire library had a time capsule that was sealed 50 years ago. When they took a look inside it contained... absolutely nothing. Why? We don’t know. But we do know that time capsules can get weird. Plus: today in Finland is the 2019 AIr Guitar World Championships!
America’s Oldest Known Time Capsule Was Made by Paul Revere and Samuel Adams (History.com)
9 Historically Disappointing Time Capsules (Mental Floss)
Lebanon Uncorks Time Capsule (Valley News)
Derry time capsule opened to reveal nothing (WMUR)
Air Guitar World Championships
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An enslaved woman in 18th century Massachusetts overheard all the talk about freedom and equality and decided it should be put to the test. On August 22, 1781, a court found the woman known as Mum Bett, later as Elizabeth Freeman, could not be the property of another human being and therefore was free and equal. Plus: someone in Sheffield, England, is stapling bread to trees, because internet.
Jury Decides in Favor of Elizabeth "Mum Bett" Freeman (MassMoments.org)
Sheffield residents don't know whether to laugh or cry at slices of bread being stapled to trees on their streets (Leeds Live)
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Little sauce packets. We hang onto them because they’re too small to notice much, or because we don’t want to throw them out if they haven’t been used. But at some point they have to spoil, right? We now have a pretty definitive answer on their shelf lives. Plus: today's the start of the annual Corn Palace Festival in Mitchell, South Dakota.
What's the Shelf Life of a Ketchup Packet? (HowStuffWorks)
Taco Bell gives man ‘saved’ by hot sauce packets while stuck in snow free food for a year (Fox2Now)
Corn Palace Festival (Travel South Dakota)
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The app what3words breaks down all the spaces on earth into 3 meter by 3 meter squares and assigns each of those squares a unique set of three words. Anyone who knows the three words for a square can pinpoint it with GPS - just ask the group of lost hikers in a UK forest who got help in about a minute thanks to the system. Plus: the great state of Wisconsin is home to a 45 X 90 monument - the center point of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere. We've got it all in this state!
This Smartphone App Can Save Your Life with Just 3 Words (Interesting Engineering)
45 X 90 Geographical Marker (Atlas Obscura)
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Researchers at Vanderbilt University have been looking at the unusual immune system of alpacas. Their antibodies are not only effective, they’re also easier to harvest than most other animals’ antibodies, so they could help develop ways to treat or regulate some rare but serious diseases in humans. Plus: alpaca herds aren't just going to help us stay healthy, they're helping us de-stress, thanks to the growing world of alpaca yoga.
Meet the alpacas that are helping researchers who study autism, Alzheimer’s and cancer (Vanderbilt University)
Alpacas steal show at free yoga class hosted by Alpaca Owners Association (Nashville Tennesseean)
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It's National Rollercoaster Day, and while there have probably been thrill rides since humans first figured out the concept of ramps, the roller coaster as we know it has a direct ancestor that dates back to 15th century Russia. Plus: a RollerCoaster Tycoon player devises the longest, most diabolical virtual coaster of all time.
From Death Traps to Disneyland: The 600-Year History of the Roller Coaster (Popular Mechanics)
Ups and downs: The history of roller coasters (USA Today)
Crazy Roller Coasters (Travel Channel)
RollerCoaster Tycoon Ride From Hell Lasts 12 Years (Kotaku)
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Richie Havens wasn't supposed to be the first act at the Woodstock festival, which started 50 years ago today. But like so much of Woodstock, what was supposed to happen was very different than what actually took place. Oh, also, there were cows there!
Woodstock Remembered: Richie Havens on Opening the Fest of ‘People Just Being People’
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It’s the 100th anniversary of a time that roosters built a bridge. Ok, not literally, but an auction of roosters donated by the most prominent people in the world helped raise the money needed for a bridge over the Tombigbee River in western Alabama, a span known as Rooster Bridge. Plus: it's day one of the Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado!
The Rooster Bridge: How one man’s vision paved the way (West Alabama Watchman)
The Rooster Bridge Historical Marker at the US Hwy 80/Tombigbee River Bridge (Rural SW Alabama)
Telluride Mushroom Festival
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The online plant store Patch is offering to take care of the house plants for you while you’re on holiday, in what it’s calling the world’s first plant hotel. Plus: meet the Social Escape Dress, which tracks your stress and activates built-in fog machines if the moment gets to be too much for the wearer.
Hotel for plants takes care of your greenery while you're gone (CNet)
Urban Armor #7: The Social Escape Dress (Kathleen McDermott)
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When a cougar started walking toward her on a logging trail in British Columbia, Dee Gallant used the power of rock to protect herself. Plus: in a move that might make heavy metal even heavier, guitarist Takamizawa Toshihiko designs a guitar shaped like Godzilla.
Metallica responds to B.C. woman who fended off wild cougar with the band’s music (GlobalNews.ca)
A Very Resourceful Woman Scared Off a Cougar by Blasting Metallica (Noisey)
This Limited-Edition Godzilla is a Monster of a Guitar (Guitar World)
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Elvis Week is getting underway in Memphis, Tennessee, and while I can't be there, I can still celebrate, because my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin is where the King once broke up a fight at a gas station in the middle of the night. Plus: Hastings, Nebraska is kicking off the annual Kool-Aid Days.
About Elvis Week (Graceland)
Neglected marker shows where Elvis Presley in a karate stance stopped a fight in Madison in 1977 (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
Kool-Aid Days (Visit Nebraska)
It's day one of the Iowa State Fair, and what would that fair be without its centerpiece - the butter cow! The most bovine of butter sculptures made its debut in 1911, but the long and interesting history of butter-based art goes back even further. Plus: Minnesotans are heading to the community of Darwin this weekend to celebrate the Biggest Ball of Twine.
The surprisingly lofty history of American butter sculpting (The Takeout)
This Year's Ohio State Fair Butter Sculpture Pays Tribute to 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing (Cleveland Scene)
Twine Ball Day in Darwin, MN (Explore Minnesota)
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Later this month tens of thousands of people will head to Buñol, Spain for La Tomatina, otherwise known as the world’s largest tomato throwing festival. Also, today is day one of the World Yo Yo Contest in Cleveland, Ohio. But most of all, it's Cool Weird Awesome's 100th episode! Thanks for listening and supporting the show!
Tomatina History (Tomatina.es)
World Yo Yo Contest
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If you were a royal back several hundred years ago, this might be a time when you’d pack up and leave the castle for one of your other castles. This wasn't just because that’s what you do when you’re wealthy; it was because the castle staff needed everyone out so they could clean out all the filth! Plus: to balance out all the dirty stuff, let's hear about how companies are launching just-add-water cleaning products.
Naked Cooks, Excrement, Rats: The Secretly Disgusting History of Royal Palaces (History.com)
Could just-add-water products save us? (Vox)
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It was a hard, hard weekend - so we thought it would be a good day to just take the few minutes we share together and have a little fun, before we have to go back out into the world. So here's an Instagram account called Homesickdotcom, which shares photos of the hilarious letters kids at camp send their parents when they maybe don’t want to be at camp. Plus: two brothers on their way to the Twins Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, have a very twinny experience with the State Patrol.
This Instagram Account Full Of Kids' Homesick Letters From Camp Is Hilariously Real (Buzzfeed)
Twins pulled over by OSHP for nearly identical license plates (Fox 8 Cleveland)
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There’s a new cafe in the Indian city of Ambikapur known as a "garbage cafe." It aims to help very poor people by offering them meals and/or shelter in exchange for the trash they often pick up and try to sell - and it uses the reclaimed plastic to build new roads. Plus: this weekend in Twinsburg, Ohio, near Cleveland, the annual Twins Days festival is getting underway.
Bring Plastic Waste And Eat Full Meal At India's First Garbage Cafe In Chhattisgarh (India Times)
Twins Day Festival
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The Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum in Eaton, Colorado, is facing an uncertain future. Its namesake wants to pass on his collection of some 1,600 machines to the next generation. Hopefully someone takes him up on that offer, because there’s a lot of history here. Plus: the Lumberjack World Championships begin in Hayward, Wisconsin, and we go for the obvious Monty Python reference in describing the event.
The Secret History of Washing Machines (Popular Mechanics)
Lumberjack World Championships
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Someday, smart speakers might be able to sound off if we don’t sound quite ourselves. Researchers at the University of Alberta have been working on a way for AI to detect depression through voice recordings. Plus: Today in 1989 is when Nintendo brought the US the Game Boy, the landmark portable video game system that made black and green displays cool again.
Sound mind: Detecting depression through voice (University of Alberta)
10 Amazing Facts About the Game Boy You Didn't Know (Houston Press)
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Trailblazing journalist Nellie Bly once feigned severe mental illness to expose abuses at an asylum from the inside. New York City is now putting up a monument in her honor on the site where the asylum once stood. Plus: today is the birthday of the Trans-Canada Highway, which runs from St. John’s Newfoundland to Victoria, British Columbia. If my math is right, you could listen to like 1,600 episodes of this show while driving from one end to the other.
Journalist Nellie Bly Will Receive a Monument on the Grounds of the Asylum She Helped Close (Hyperallergic)
Trans-Canada Highway (The Canadian Encyclopedia)
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Last week the organizers of the 2020 Olympic Games revealed that 100 percent of the gold, silver and bronze used to create the Olympic medals is recycled - the metal comes from used cell phones. But the ancient Olympians got olive branches as prizes. Why is it that we have Olympic medals in the first place? Plus: today, Louisville, Kentucky hosts the World Championship Dainty Contest!
The Games: A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt (W.W. Norton & Co)
Tokyo 2020 Olympic medals made from 80,000 tons of recycled mobile phones, electronics (USA Today)
Olympic Medals (Olympic.org)
49th annual Dainty Contest set for Monday, July 29, in Schnitzelburg (Insider Louisville)
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The National Postal Museum in Washington, DC, has an exhibit telling the story of Owney, the dog who loved the mail so much that he helped deliver it all over the world. Plus: Freeman, South Dakota is holding its annual Chislic Festival, a two day celebration of cubed meat on a stick. (Sorry, dogs aren't allowed.)
The National Postal Museum tells the history of America through moon mail, rare stamps, and one taxidermy dog (Roadtrippers)
The History of Owney the Postal Dog, Mascot of the Railway Mail Service (USPS Blog)
South Dakota Chislic Festival
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Whenever a new Prime Minister takes office in the UK, the first question many people ask is: what happens to the cat living at the official residence at 10 Downing Street? We'll look at some of the most famous felines to ever hold the title Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office. Plus: for reasons only known to mascots, the New Jersey Devil ran out of a game of parachute at a kid's birthday party and ran into a plate glass window. Which broke.
Downing Street Cats (and other British Government felines) (Purr-n-Fur UK)
The new PM's first job: Impress the cat (BBC)
Home Office cat history revealed (BBC)
Cats that left a mark in the corridors of power (Telegraph UK via Internet Archive)
New Jersey Devils Mascot Runs Through Window At Boy’s Birthday Party (Huffington Post)
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There’s a quadcopter drone that uses spring-loaded arms and a process called "rapid aerial morphing" to fold itself up as it flies. So we’re a step closer to real-life Transformers. Plus: the story of the all-robot band Compressorhead, whose members twist and turn their mechanical parts so they can ROCK!
Spring-Loaded Drone Collapses Mid-Flight to Zip Through Windows (IEEE Spectrum)
Compressorhead (Weirdest Band In The World)
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Lots of parents multitask but Cynthia Arnold is completely off the charts, having just run the Missoula Marathon while pushing a triple stroller containing her three kids. Meanwhile, Tony Fisher bought some salami and did the only logical thing with it: construct a 2x2x2 Rubik’s Cube out of it. Hooray for marathon and/or meat-based puzzle achievers!
Mom Runs 3:11 Marathon With a Triple Stroller While Pushing 185 Pounds (Runners World)
Real Salami Sausage 2x2x2 Rubik’s Cube (Tony Fisher on YouTube)
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The website and book Sad Topographies teaches us that our planet is home to some unusually-named places, like Gloomy Lake in Ontario, Divorce Beach in Mexico, New Jersey’s Shades of Death Road (!) and a spot in Washington state known as Point No Point. Plus: the annual World Santa Claus Congress is getting underway in Denmark. Watch for some serious Santa-to-Santa networking.
21 Of The Saddest Places On Earth From Instagram’s sadtopographies (Brilliant Maps)
Shades of Death Road (Weird NJ)
Washington State’s bummer place names, mapped (Curbed Seattle)
World Santa Claus Congress
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50 years ago, the BBC brought in the band known for playing space rock to improvise on-air for its coverage of the Apollo 11 mission. Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour said, accurately, that “the programming was a little looser in those days.” Plus: it's been 25 years since the time that Pizza Hut produced an ad for UK television in which all the dialogue was in Klingon.
My moon-landing jam session (The Guardian)
13 Minutes To The Moon (BBC)
Watch this fantastic 1994 Pizza Hut TV commercial that's entirely in Klingon (Boing Boing)
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On this day in 1912, the birth of the greatest athlete you might never have heard of - Olympic silver medalist and community advocate Mack Robinson. His brother, Jackie, is better known, but there's a reason their hometown of Pasadena, California installed bronze busts of both brothers outside City Hall. Plus, a new study out of Harvard asks the important question: do runners actually go faster by bending their arms as they race?
Two Lives After Losing to Jesse Owens (New York TImes)
Matthew MacKenzie “Mack” Robinson (1912-2000) (BlackPast.org)
Running with your arms bent does not make you go any faster than with straight arms, Harvard study finds (Yahoo! News)
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Veggies are good for us - but some households can’t buy them, and others don’t want to. What is it that will get eaters more interested in buying and eating their vegetables? One answer may be: the color black. Plus: the Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention is getting underway today in Erlanger, Kentucky.
Backed in Black: How to get people to buy more produce (Brigham Young University)
Vent Haven International Ventriloquist Convention
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A growing number of people are heading to the airport not to catch flights, but just to hang out at the airport itself. And why not, given how many cool amenities airports have added over the years? Plus: a top destination for Instagram travelers is maybe not quite what it appears to be.
Airports Open Up to Terminal Tourists Who Just Want to Hang Out (Bloomberg Quint)
Nine weird and wonderful airport amenities (The Independent)
Instagrammers Are Swarming This Turquoise Lake. It's Actually A Toxic Dump. (Buzzfeed)
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Going over Niagara Falls with or without a barrel is a bad idea and you shouldn't do it. It’s safer, easier and a lot more fun to cross over the bridge between Niagara Falls, New York and Niagara Falls, Ontario - or, if you’re a daredevil, to cross the falls themselves on a tightrope, as Nik Wallenda did in 2012. Plus: the story of the time 50 years ago that Niagara Falls stopped falling.
Man who went over Niagara Falls may have been saved by high water levels (Buffalo News)
Daredevil completes walk across Niagara Falls (CNN)
The Year The Army Stopped Niagara Falls (Gizmodo)
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Coffee grounds can be recycled in all kinds of ways, including lots of products. And the most meta product of all is from KaffeeForm, which uses coffee grounds to make coffee cups. Plus: if you can't wait a couple years for the Little Mermaid remake, why not head to Sacramento for the California Mermaid Festival?
6 Amazing products made (almost) entirely from recycled coffee grounds (Inhabitat)
California Mermaid Festival
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Wisconsin’s most fearsome folk monster been in Harry Potter and tangled with the Scooby Gang, but the Hodag is beloved in the community of Rhinelander, where it's the high school team mascot and there are many Hodags to find around town. Plus: it's a big day in the community of Joensuu, Finland: the first-ever World Heavy Metal Knitting Championships!
The Legend Of The Hodag (Wisconsin Life)
World Heavy Metal Knitting Championships
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Patrouille Swiss is the official aerial acrobatics team for Switzerland. Last weekend they were in fine form as they flew over the community of Langenbruck for a festival honoring a local aviation hero... except for one thing: they weren’t actually over Langenbruck. Plus: New York City is now home to Poster House, the first American museum that’s fully about posters and their history.
Swiss aerial display team flies over yodeling festival by mistake (Deutsche Welle)
WoodyFest in Okemah, OK
Poster House Is the First Museum in the United States Dedicated Exclusively to Posters
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In Japan, there's a little white robot swimming through rice fields, imitating a duck! It's actually helping to grow the rice by aerating the water and stopping weeds from growing. Plus: if you prefer non-robotic ducks, then you’ve got some options with the World’s Largest Rubber Duck, which is on tour this summer.
Nissan Builds Robot Duck To Help Rice Farmers Keep Weeds Out Of Their Paddies (Designboom)
World’s Largest Rubber Duck
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Taco Bell says it’s been dealing with a tortilla shortage. Those craving inexpensive tacos and burritos at odd hours are bearing the brunt of this crisis, but it’s affecting all of us - after all, tortillas have been a part of our culinary lives for thousands of years. Plus: the story of a man who brought a great deal of change to Phoenix, Arizona - literally.
Taco Bell restaurants hit by tortilla shortage that is affecting burritos and quesadillas (USA Today)
Testin’ Tortillas in San Antonio: From Moctezuma to Mass Production (San Antonio Current)
Food For Space Flight (NASA)
Arizona man builds pyramid out of 1 million pennies in world record attempt (New York Post)
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It’s day one of the Roswell UFO Festival in New Mexico. Whatever happened there in 1947, the incident put Roswell on the map - and other towns that have their own UFO stories have been increasingly playing up those stories, including through historic markers. Plus: this weekend, Sheboygan, Wisconsin will race thousands of rubber ducks down the Sheboygan River in the Ducktona 500.
Roswell UFO Festival
Historical marker commemorates reported alien abduction (Tuscaloosa News)
Betty And Barney Hill UFO Abduction Story Commemorated On Official N.H. Highway Plaque (Huffington Post)
Reward offered for return of stolen UFO alien grave marker in Texas (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
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It's the 243rd birthday of the United States, and we've done a lot of celebrating over those years. But what were people doing on the Fourth of July before American independence? One of the most interesting stories is from July 4, 1054 - in China. Plus: check out a different kind of July 4th celebration - the Sidewalk Egg Frying Challenge in Oatman, Arizona!
Supernova 1054 - Creation of the Crab Nebula (SEDS)
Sidewalk Egg Frying Challenge in Oatman, Arizona
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Smart glasses are a thing! Not augmented reality, but an actual pair of glasses that can sense what we're trying to look at and make it easier to see it clearly as our eyes age and lose some of their ability to focus. Plus: the National Paper Doll Convention begins today with the theme of “Mystery, Murder and Mayhem.” I'd like to know what kind of mayhem a convention full of paper doll enthusiasts can cause.
Stanford develops ‘autofocals’ – glasses that track your eyes to focus on what you see (Stanford University)
National Paper Doll Convention
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On this day in 1982, a dude named Larry Walters entered aviation history as the pilot of a craft called Inspiration I - which was a lawn chair attached to 42 large weather balloons. Plus: the story of some high school students in Toronto, Ontario, who used a weather balloon to launch a Lego figure into near space.
Up, Up, and Away! Did Larry Walters soar above Los Angeles in a lawn chair attached to helium weather balloons? (Snopes)
Teens Put Lego Man in 'Space' (Actually Stratosphere)
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Researchers at Rutgers University have developed a system to unprint the printing on standard printer paper, in a way that uses less energy and material than the conventional paper recycling process. Plus: the new Medi-Teddy aims to make a trip to the hospital a little more fun - or at least a little less scary - for kids, and the inventor is a kid herself.
New Unprinting Method Can Help Recycle Paper and Curb Environmental Costs (Rutgers)
12 Year Old Girl Invents an Adorable Teddy Bear That Hides IV Bags Making Infusions Less Scary to Children (Laughing Squid)
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A team at Technion–Israel Institute of Technology developed a way to use medical glue to bind human tissue together instead of stitches and medical pins. They heat it up using, essentially, a hot glue gun - one that they hopefully don't leave in with their craft supplies. Plus: the World Egg Throwing Championship is back in the UK community of Swaton, Lincolnshire!
Technion team develops medical glue to replace stitches in serious injuries (Times of Israel)
World Egg Throwing Championship
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I'm traveling to Buffalo, New York for a book event today, so I thought I'd celebrate one of the city's beloved foods: sponge candy. Meanwhile, an ice cream shop in Buffalo has done what you might expect an ice cream shop in Buffalo to do: add Buffalo sauce to the ice cream.
Buffalo sponge candy (Atlas Obscura)
A treat with heat: Lake Effect Ice Cream unveils wing-sauce flavor (Buffalo News)
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Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias could do it all - she was an Olympic gold medalist, champion golfer, basketball and baseball player, vaudeville performer, celebrity and more. Once she won the US national track and field championships by herself - as in, she was a team of one and beat teams that had over a dozen athletes. Plus: check out the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Race, a footrace that manages cover 3,100 miles but just one city block.
Mildred "Babe" Didrikson Zaharias (WomensHistory.org)
"Babe Didrikson at the 1932 Olympic Games" by Lindsay Parks Pieper, from the book Replays, Rivalries, and Rumbles: The Most Iconic Moments in American Sports
Babe Didrikson (Famous Texans)
Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence: The 3,100-mile race around a New York block (BBC)
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Today is #BourdainDay, where we celebrate Anthony Bourdain's enthusiasm for traveling, eating, learning and especially for going off the beaten path to really get to know people and recipes and places. In that spirit, we talk about food trucks with personalities big enough to match their culinary skills. Plus: a team at Delta Airlines made a barbecue grill into the side of a jet engine. Now that's travel food.
12 Weird And Wonderful Food Trucks (Car Buzz)
This BBQ Grill Is Built Into a Jet Engine (Technabob)
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The Curiosity Rover takes selfies on Mars - so how does it do it without having its robot arm in the foreground of every shot? Plus: the University of St. Andrews teaches grey seals to sing the "Star Wars" theme. For research.
Why Don’t We See the Curiosity Rover’s Arm When it Takes a Selfie? (Universe Today)
Curiosity Rover Report (June 13, 2013): Curiosity's Cameras (NASA on YouTube)
Grey seals copy human speech and music (University of St. Andrews)
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Earlier this month a prototype mower in Germany set a new world record by going from zero to 100 miles an hour in 6.29 seconds… while still cutting grass! Not bad for an invention that's not even 200 years old. Plus: this weekend is the grand finale of the annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest in New York City, which is... exactly what its name suggests.
Lawnmower sets acceleration speed record in Germany (UPI)
The History Of The American Lawnmower (CBS News)
A Brief History of the Lawnmower (Popular Mechanics)
British Lawnmower Museum
The 2019 Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest
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Bycatch is what fishing boats catch that they're not trying to catch. It's bad for them, their nets and the bycatch - especially for turtles, which are difficult to disentangle from gillnets. But new research suggests illuminating nets with LED lights may warn turtles away and reduce bycatch. Plus: the floating ball challenge is a sight to behold: a boxer keeping a 20 pound medicine ball floating on the power of his punches.
Illuminated Nets Could Provide A Brighter Future For Sea Turtles (NOAA)
Floating Medicine Ball (The Awesomer)
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Juneteenth is the annual celebration of the end of the institution of slavery. Today we give some props to the African-Americans who have built the holiday over the year, including the Texan-turned-San Franciscan who used to don his ten-gallon hat and ride his horse through town as part of the festivities. Plus: if you like celebrations, why not try the Midnight Sun Festival in Nome, Alaska? It's the kind of party that would go on all night... if they had night this time of year.
What Is Juneteenth? (PBS)
Late to Freedom's Party, Texans Spread Word of Black Holiday (New York Times)
Emancipation Park (City of Houston, Texas)
Nome Midnight Sun Festival (Alaska.org)
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Guitar great Peter Frampton starts his farewell concert tour, which means if you want to hear him use that famous voice box in “Do You Feel Like We Do," now's the time to do it. How does that talk box work, anyway? Plus: meet Ahmed Ali, a graduation speaker in Minneapolis with a very unique voice.
How Talk Boxes Work (HowStuffWorks)
Retro Guitar Effects: Meet the Sonovox, Grandfather of the Talk Box (Guitar World)
A first for MPS as 21-year-old gives unique graduation speech (KARE11)
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The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology - known better as the Penn Museum - needed to move its most famous object, a 3,000 year old Egyptian sphinx, from a gallery to the main hall as part of a renovation project. The move was only 300 feet - but the sphinx happens to weigh 12.5 tons - so it took three days to get from point A to point B. Plus: a regional minister in Pakistan livestreamed his news conference on social media... with the cat filter accidentally turned on.
A monumental move for the Penn Museum’s iconic sphinx (University of Pennsylvania)
Pakistani politician livestreams press conference with 'cat filter' on by mistake (Telegraph UK)
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Sorry, Simpsons fans: the world's greatest burper is neither "The Critic" Jay Sherman nor Eudora Welty, but an Italian guy in a wrestling mask who calls himself Rutt Mysterio. Plus: for Father's Day weekend, the story of the only time in big league history when father and son hit back-to-back home runs.
Longest burp (Guinness World Records)
This undisputed burping master will blow your mind away (YouTube)
Sept. 14, 1990: When the Griffeys made history with back-to-back homers (The Sporting News)
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The Songwriters Hall of Fame is inducting Yusuf Cat Stevens for his classic, mostly acoustic songs like "Moonshadow," "Peace Train" and "Wild World." But did you also know that Yusuf Cat Stevens was a pioneer in electronic music with his 1977 song "Was Dog A Doughnut?" Plus: Avon, Ohio, the Duct Tape Capital of the World, is kicking off this year's Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival today.
Key Tracks: Cat Stevens’ “Was Dog a Doughnut?” (Red Bull Music Academy)
Avon Heritage Duck Tape Festival
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Autonomous robot boats are a thing! Over time, researchers have taught them to row themselves gently down the stream and to connect to each other autonomously - soon they could help clean the water or even turn themselves into temporary footbridges. Plus: a band in Mexico knew just what to do when the mall they were playing in started to flood. Celine would have been proud.
Autonomous boats can target and latch onto each other (MIT)
As heavy rain floods shopping center, musicians play Titanic theme (Mexico News Daily)
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We may be taking a big step forward in the effort to stop food waste! A research team at Imperial College London has developed food freshness sensors that can be embedded in the packaging of meat and fish and detect the gases that show up when food spoils. Plus: if you like sensors, check out the 2019 Sensors Expo and Conference later this month in San Jose, California. It's even got an awards show!
Food freshness sensors could replace ‘use-by’ dates to cut food waste (Imperial College London)
Sensors Expo and Conference 2019
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Last week Southern California saw a bloom of ladybugs so big it showed up on radar! As it turns out, there's a whole field of science called aeroecology that's using our increasingly accurate radar to track insects, birds and bats. Plus: ladybugs have had a lot of names over the years, including - for whatever reason - bishops!
High-flying ladybug swarm shows up on National Weather Service radar (Los Angeles Times)
'Aeroecology' uses radar to track flying animals (BBC)
Meteorologist reveals cause of colorful 100-mile-wide "cloud" over Denver (CBS News)
Why Birds Make Weird Circles on Weather Radars (Vice)
Ladybirds, ladybugs, and… cows? (Oxford Dictionaries)
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Today is the start of the Banana Split Festival in Wilmington, Ohio, where the banana split was born. Of course, if you were in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, locals would point out their town had banana splits three years before Wilmington. Plus: the mind-melting TV show known as the Banana Splits Adventure Hour was actually supposed to have an entirely different name!
Wilmington Banana Split Festival
Birthplace of the Banana Split (Ohio Magazine)
The Banana Split: A Rich History (Pennsylvania Center for the Book)
10 tra la la true facts about the Banana Splits (MeTV)
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Researchers at Washington State University say they’ve found a way to make jet fuel out of something the world throws out in great quantities every day: household plastic. Plus: something you might want to fly overseas and check out is the new Easy-E memorial bench that for some reason is in Newhaven, in southern England.
Plastic water bottles may one day fly people cross-country (Washington State University)
Eazy-E seaside memorial bench in Newhaven (UK) unveiled (BBC)
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Storm damage isn't cool, weird or awesome, but the ways we spot storms and warn people about them are pretty great. And they've come a long way from the time when the US Army Signal Corps banned anyone from using the word “tornado” in forecasts so as not to scare the public! Plus: the story of an engagement between two storm chasers that will literally blow you away.
Illinois Tornadoes Prior to 1916 (Illinois State Water Survey)
History of Tornado Forecasting (NOAA)
Storm chaser proposes to boyfriend as Kansas tornado looms (NBC News)
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Attractions - especially weird ones - are a time-honored way to drum up business from people who are at best casual baseball fans, and lately that's extended to team names, including the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, the Vermont Lake Monsters, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and the Rocket City Trash Pandas. Plus: the tale of Peter Williams, who in 1972 won the Wisconsin state long jump championship "by accident."
Minor League Baseball is swinging big and going weird with new team names (Mashable)
Let's break down all 160 Minor League team names (MLB.com)
Timber Rattlers to Play as Udder Tuggers June 20 (Ballpark Digest)
How an Oakfield farm boy won the 1972 state long jump title by accident, wearing a Mickey Mouse T-shirt (Fond du Lac Reporter)
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A project to build a clock that will run for 10,000 years got us thinking about how we measure time - and amazingly, 10,000 years is more time than has passed since the invention of hours, minutes and seconds. Plus: a quick look at the shortest official measurement in science, which is so short that, ironically, there isn't enough time to try to explain it on our show.
Objects of Despair: The 10,000-Year Clock (The Paris Review)
Why is a minute divided into 60 seconds, an hour into 60 minutes, yet there are only 24 hours in a day? (Scientific American)
Planck Time (The SAO Encyclopedia of Astronomy)
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It's the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman, the poet best known for his landmark work Leaves of Grass... and the guy who anonymously wrote glowing reviews of his own writing in the newspapers of the day. Plus: Plymouth, North Carolina is hosting the North Carolina Black Bear Festival, which makes sense because the city bills itself as the originator of National Black Bear Day.
"Walt Whitman and His Poems" by Walt Whitman (Whitman Archive)
“Promoting Himself” (Library of Congress)
North Carolina Black Bear Festival
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We’re on the eve of this year’s biggest event in Fruita, Colorado - the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival, where people all gather to celebrate the miracle chicken who had his head chopped off, and carried on as if nothing had changed. Plus: residents of New York are gearing up for quite a show. Manhattanhenge is (weather permitting) happening today, with the sun perfectly positioned within the city's street grid.
The Mike the Headless Chicken Festival
Manhattanhenge: What It Is, and How to See It (Scientific American)
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Today’s show is about a series of earthquake aftershocks in the Hebgen Lake area of Yellowstone National Park measured in 2017 and 2018. That’s not in and of itself unusual, except that the original earthquake happened in August of 1959. Plus: a dude repairs and cleans a vintage synthesizer and accidentally gets dosed with the leftover LSD residue from a half century before.
Aftershocks of 1959 Earthquake Rocked Yellowstone in 2017-18 (University of Utah)
Repair Of Iconic ’60s Era Synthesizer Turns Into Long, Strange Trip For Engineer (CBS San Francisco)
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As much as we all like to consider ourselves straight talkers, we all use certain euphemisms when we’ve done something we wished we hadn’t. Scientists are particularly good at this because they can envelop a faux pas in layers and layers of academic journal language - the phrase “unplanned rapid disassembly," for example, is a formal way to say “accidentally exploded." Plus: Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques made a video where he demonstrates the amazing attributes of honey in microgravity!
Scientists Reveal How They Use Academic Language To Mask Their Mess Ups And It’s Hilarious (Bored Panda)
"If you read in a frog paper..." (Blue Electric Angels on Tumblr)
Honey in Space (Canadian Space Agency)
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Officially, the community that started Memorial Day is Waterloo, New York - in May 1866, the community spent the entire day honoring those killed in the Civil War by placing wreaths and flowers at their graves, then holding a parade, giving speeches and flying flags at half staff. But Waterloo is definitely not the only place with a Memorial Day origin story.
How Waterloo, NY, became the birthplace of Memorial Day (New York Upstate)
Birthplace of Memorial Day? That Depends Where You’re From (New York Times)
Memorial Day History (VA.gov)
There’s nothing more fashionable than the jumpsuit - right? Right? Anyway, it was a century ago that the Italian artist Thayaht proposed a one-piece garment with buttons down the front as the next big thing in fashion. The jumpsuit hasn't quite become as universal as he hoped, but it _is_ the only outfit that connects Rosie the Riveter, Evel Knievel, Amelia Earhart, David Bowie and the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Plus: want to wear an Elvis jumpsuit but don't want to pay huge auction prices? Try the new Elvis jumpsuit-style hoodie!
Elvis Hoodie (GearHuman)
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May is Asian/Pacific-American Heritage Month, and a great time to talk about two exciting, important and sometimes underappreciated Asian-American performers. The dance team of Jew Wing Dong and Dorothy Takahashi, known professionally in their heyday as Toy and Wing. were often compared to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers for their electrifying performances on stage and screen. Plus: The Maryland Deathfest is starting in Baltimore, featuring some of the loudest, most aggressive dark metal bands in the world - according to their website, it's also an all-ages, family friendly event. “Bring the kids!” they say.
The Chinese Fred Astaire (National Archives at Riverside)
The Story of a 99-Year Old Living and Dancing Chinatown Icon (AsAm News)
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And now, a look at a study that’s the kind of research Batman would do if he were an academic instead of a crimefighter: a scientific study of virtual burglary. By watching how burglars burgle, we might learn the difference between how most of us think burglars work and how they actually work - and then take steps that will stop more burglaries before they start. Plus: the state of Michigan is dropping an album today! Maybe someday states will turn out diss tracks against each other?
Crime fighting just got easier as burglars reveal all (University of Portsmouth via EurekAlert!)
Michigan releasing album of sounds from state parks (Crain's Detroit)
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The busiest part of the year for travelers is coming, meaning that at airports, there will be a lot of people around to clonk into each other. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University may have a solution: a collision-detecting suitcase. Plus: a brewery offered a keg party to anyone who could find their missing and/or stolen van. Didn't take long for someone to find it.
Collision-Detecting Suitcase, Wayfinding App Help Blind People Navigate Airports (Carnegie Mellon University)
Brewery offered free beer as reward for finding stolen van. It was back in 42 minutes (Charlotte Observer)
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Two weeks ago, the staff at the Humane Society of San Diego had to figure out how to help a tortoise with a hole in its shell. Veterinarians Daniel Barbour came up with a plan involving a trip to the hardware store. Plus: meet Ron Minis, a musician who figured out how to play the classic guitar solo from Guns 'N' Roses' "Sweet Child O'Mine" despite the fact that he doesn't play guitar,.
Vet invents new procedure to save injured tortoise (FOX 5 San Diego)
Dude Mics A Piano Like A Guitar, Plays GUNS N' ROSES' "Sweet Child O' Mine" Solo (MetalInjection.net)
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A group of researchers has been looking at the science behind digital pettiness - that’s like if you go out to eat with somebody and then use Paypal or Venmo to send them the exact amount of money to cover your order, down to the penny. Maybe this isn’t a surprise, but the research suggests that if you’re too particular about paying back the exact amount, it can take a toll on your friendships. Maybe you'd be better off taking your friends to the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Rhubarb Festival, which is kicking off today. They've even got what they say is the only rhubarb race car derby!
Is the Digital Age Making Us Petty? (Harvard Business School)
Lancaster County Rhubarb Festival
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Today's the 50th anniversary of an overlooked but important visit to a fairly nasty place… the planet Venus. The Venera 5 craft isn't well remembered, partly because it only got to do its atmospheric testing for an hour before the hellscape that is the second planet basically wrecked it, but it did teach us some important new things about Venus. In short: a nice planet, but you wouldn't want to live there. You might, though, want to live in McMinnville, Oregon, which is kicking off its annual UFO Festival today, complete with fun run called the Alien Abduction Dash.
Venera 5 (NASA)
Yes, We've Seen the Surface of Venus (Popular Science)
McMinnville OR UFO Festival
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What’s in a name? That which we call a corpse flower by any other name would smell as bad. The Chicago Botanic Garden has issued a bloom watch for one of its corpse flowers - not humans' favorite scent ever, but still a special occasion, because a corpse flower in the wild only blooms every two to five years. Plus: a college library in Australia evacuates over a suspected gas leak, only to find someone had brought in something that smells even stronger than a corpse flower.
Java 2.0 (Chicago Botanic Garden)
Corpse Flower Timelapse Video (Chicago Botanic Garden)
College library evacuated for gas leak. Turns out it was just the stench of durian — a horrendously smelly fruit (CBS News)
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For this Taco Tuesday we salute the Washington State University researchers behind the latest in electric tongue technology. The virtual tongue system can better distinguish spiciness than human tongues - and for longer periods of time, too. Plus: a visit to Tio’s Tacos in Riverside, California, where the food is memorable, and the decor is unforgettable.
An electric tongue can handle more spicy foods than you can (Science Daily)
Tio's Tacos In Riverside Hides A Vast Outdoor Sculpture Museum (LAist)
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Australians have been laughing, cursing, sighing and facepalming over a misspelled word on the newest printing of the Australian $50 dollar note. They left out an I in the word “responsibility,” and no one in the country is apparently missing the irony of misspelling that particular word and not catching it until 46 million of them had been sent out into the financial world. Creating currency is a complex process, so it’s only natural that there are flaws. Most of the errors get caught before being sent into circulation. But not always. Plus: the best kind of money is found money - unless you're in Grand Haven, Michigan, where a guy who dropped $30,000 in cash is expecting that you return it.
Huge typo spotted on new $50 note (News.com.au)
Bank alerted to Joyce coin risk (The Herald of Dublin)
Error Is Human, Pt. 1: Certifiable U.S. Paper Money Errors (Coin Week)
"Bugs Bunny" (Franklin Lover)
People rush to grab whirling cash after $30,000 falls off back of truck (MLive)
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It’s 150 years to the day that the presidents of the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads drove a ceremonial golden spike into the first railroad line to cross North America. That's the big event of the weekend - oh, there's also a thing called Mother's Day? Okay, well for you all let's pay tribute to the Mom For A Minute Subreddit, which provides a virtual Reddit mom for you when your own maternal relationship is unresolved. Plus: the story of writer Dave Wain, who's paying tribute to his recently departed mum by live-tweeting her amazing collection of raunchy e-books using the hashtag #MumsKindleOdyssey.
The golden spike turns 150 (Visit Salt Lake)
Visit This Subreddit When You Need a Mom but Don't Have a Supportive One (Lifehacker)
Mum’s Kindle Odyssey (Dave Wain on Twitter)
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Ralph Baer invented home video games from his workshop in Manchester, New Hampshire - and now the city is honoring this gaming pioneer with a "Baer Square," complete with a statue, in a city park. Plus: this weekend, a place called the Maritime Republic of Eastport in Annapolis is holding "the least challenging athletic event ever conceived." It's a race that's one-twentieth of a kilometer long.
The Father of the Video Game: The Ralph Baer Prototypes and Electronic Games (Smithsonian Museum of American History)
Tomorrow Ralph Baer gets his own park in Manchester NH (GraniteGeek)
World’s Least Challenging Athletic Event Ever (The Travel 100)
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The story of the whale wearing a GoPro that might be some kind of Russian surveillance agent is pretty wild, but it's not even close to the first time governments have turned to animals for surveillance purposes. In the Cold War, the CIA tried to train a cat to infiltrate the Soviet Embassy in DC - sadly, they did not name it Felis Leiter. Plus: the audio phenomenon known as the "cocktail party effect" is not just for humans. Dogs have it too! Which means dogs should come to cocktail parties way more often.
That Time the CIA Bugged a Cat to Spy on the Soviets (The Atlantic)
The ‘Russian spy whale’ has plenty of historical company (Financial Times)
Dogs can tune out noise, just like people at cocktail parties (National Geographic)
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The new film “Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project" tells the story of a Philadelphia librarian and activist who spent decades recording every TV program she possibly could. She left 70,000 videocassettes in all, which is now being digitized to help us fill in some fascinating gaps in mass media history. Plus: the story of a man whose windshield was smashed by a flying turtle. And no, it wasn't a real-life game of Mario Kart.
Tribeca Film Review: ‘Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project’ (Variety)
'It just flung into my windshield': Turtle smashes into car in South Carolina (WAVY)
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Today is the 25th anniversary of the formal opening of the Channel Tunnel, a 31.4 mile long, mostly undersea rail tunnel connecting the city of Calais in northern France with the English town of Folkestone, Kent. The commemoration ceremony was a diplomatic coup but an engineer's nightmare: they had to run a train carrying Queen Elizabeth II and a train with French President Francois Mitterand toward each other... on the same track. Plus: a look at how the designers of the world's longest road tunnel - the Laerdal Tunnel in Norway - made sure drivers wouldn't get bored and nod off on their 15 mile journey underground.
The Channel Tunnel: 20 fascinating facts (Telegraph UK)
10 Strange Structural Engineering Marvels: Laerdal Tunnel (HowStuffWorks)
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The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles is about to open a new exhibit called “Hollywood Dream Machines: Vehicles of Science Fiction and Fantasy." If you’ve ever wanted to get close to the coolest rides the big screen ever shared with us - like, say, the DeLorean in "Back to the Future" - this is your chance. Plus: a guy in Arizona tries to skirt the carpool lane rules with a scheme that could have come straight out of one of the "Mannequin" movie franchise.
Check out Batman’s and Marty McFly’s rides at the Petersen Museum (Ars Technica)
Man busted driving with mannequin in carpool lane (WJBF)
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The Louisiana Pirate Festival is getting underway in Lake Charles, which is as good a reason as any to talk about two of the most remarkable stories in pirate history: Cheng I Sao, a Chinese pirate queen who commanded 400 ships and 70,000 men and never lost a battle; and Ireland's Grace O’Malley, who, as the story is sometimes told, gave birth to one of her four children - and then, just hours later, grabbed her gun and successfully drove off a group of raiders.
Louisiana Pirate Festival
Cheng I Sao, Female Pirate Extraordinaire (JStor Daily)
Grace O'Malley: 12 fascinating facts about Ireland's fearless Pirate Queen (Irish Post)
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In Dickson, Tennessee, a movie theater showing a certain movie about a certain bright red dude with horns decided the name was a little too brash to put on a marquee facing a church, and decided to clean it up a little and advertised a showing of, and I quote, “Heckboy.” Swearing is not for everyone, of course, but it does have one really big backer: science. Swearing is still mostly a no-no on TV, which leads to weird TV-friendly versions of expletive-filled movies where characters call each other "casserole." Movies don't get any more magical than that.
What the Heckboy: Dickson theater near church avoids 'Hellboy' title
Swearing is Good for You (EmmaByrne.net)
Comically Bad TV Dubs and Edits (Mandatory.com)
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Bob Dylan still doesn’t like cell phone cameras at his concerts, judging by the admonition he gave a crowd this month. And yet, one of the most famous images was a concert photo taken by a random guy in the crowd! Plus: a group of poppy-fueled wallabies has been getting doped up and making crop circles. Every wallaby must get stoned?
Five Of Bob Dylan’s Photographers Share Their Best Dylan Stories (Stereogum)
Stoned wallabies are making crop circles in Tasmania (ABC Australia)
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A team at the University of British Columbia has developed a coating that has something called low interfacial toughness - in short, instead of ice building up on your car until it’s almost impossible to scrape off… it collapses under its own weight and just slides to the ground. Not all heroes wear capes. Plus: some heroes do wear capes, they just get turned away from the scene by the Mounties.
Clearing an icy windshield is about to get easier, says UBC engineer (University of British Columbia)
Okanagan ‘Batman’ offers helping hand, but RCMP call his presence a distraction (Global News)
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A new study led by a researcher from Duke University has spotted female sand tiger sharks returning to the same shipwrecks, sometimes over months or even years. Are they taking a rest stop on their migration routes? Are they mating there - like a pirate-themed make-out spot for sharks? Plus: sand sculpture artisans are returning this weekend to Port Aransas, Texas, for the Texas SandFest.
Sand Tiger Sharks Return to Same Shipwrecks Off N.C. Coast (Duke University)
Japanese designer Kazuhiro Yamanaka has just released a flying drone lamp - this little light of yours will fly around the room with you as you move. Imagine how cool an episode of Ghost Hunters would be if they had one. Plus: what would an exercise video be like if the celebrity host wasn't really into exercise? Debbie Reynolds made exactly that video and it's amazing.
Flying Drone Lamp By Kazuhiro Yamanaka Uses Sensors To Follow Your Movements (designboom)
Watching Shelley Winters Go Rogue in Debbie Reynolds’s 1983 Exercise Video, “Do It Debbie’s Way” (The New Yorker)
Passwords are totally out of control and no one’s happy about it. On the plus side, the security studies about how bad we are at passwords are pretty funny to read - like the new one from the UK that says one of the most common breached passwords is... Blink 182. Plus: the worldwide phenomenon that is "Baby Shark" has been welcome news for aquariums, if not for many parents.
Millions using 123456 as password, security study finds (BBC)
It’s a girl! (National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium)
Thirty years ago today was the last regular season game of one of the greats on and off the court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored more points than any NBA player ever - and he may have set the record for most kinds of post-basketball success, from doing fight scenes with Bruce Lee to writing on the reboot of Veronica Mars. And he's an airplane pilot - he's got clearance, Clarence. Plus: a hospital in Modesto, CA is trying out a new way to help its youngest patients get ready for the operating room: the kids get to drive to their surgeries in a child-sized Mercedes Benz convertible.
Legends profile: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (NBA.com)
Modesto hospital offers young surgical patients sleek, new ride to help reduce anxiety (KTVU)
Being an astronaut is hard work - not only are you floating up in space, away from the rest of the world, you have a lot of cleaning to do. But there are plans for a new system that would disinfect the interiors of spacecrafts and space stations with ultraviolet lights. Best of all, it would be autonomous. Plus: the Monday after Easter is the Polish holiday with the unforgettable name: Dyngus Day.
This Space Roomba Could Clean the ISS While Astronauts Sleep (Futurism)
Not Polish? Don't worry - here's how to celebrate Dyngus Day (The Buffalo News)
Frank Zappa is back out on tour, doing nine shows in the US and seven more in Europe. Now if you’re scratching your head here and saying, wait, isn’t Frank Zappa dead - well, yes, but this is the era of hologram concert tours, there's no reason a dearly departed musician can't step out on stage! Plus: let's celebrate Passover and/or Easter weekend the way the ancients intended: with the circle of concrete rabbit statues known as Bunnyhenge.
No industry is weirder than the dead celebrity hologram industry (Vox)
It’s Official: Dead Musicians Are Now Touring as Holograms (Philadelphia magazine)
Bunny Henge (Weird California)
Everything is connected to everything else - and there's no better example of that than this week's news that a song by Ariana Grande is putting money into the state pension program in Michigan. And speaking of Michigan, did you know the state is home to the American Museum of Magic, which boasts the largest publicly viewable collection of magical artifacts in the world?
Michigan can say 'thank u, Ariana Grande'; Her hit '7 Rings' boosts state pension funds (Detroit Free Press)
American Museum of Magic
Tired? Smoke breaks. Inspired? Scent breaks. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Brown University are looking at whether pleasant smells can help curb cravings for nicotine. Plus: for the new short film NYC Textures, director Ynon Lan took over a thousand still images of sidewalks, sides of buildings, subway tiles, grass and more. It’s a unique perspective on what you actually see when you move through New York City.
Pleasant Olfactory Cues Can Reduce Cigarette Craving (Journal of Abnormal Psychology via APA.org)
NYC Textures (Ynon Lan)
If you’re mourning Notre Dame cathedral today, well, you’re not the only one. Here’s a story from its long history that might make you feel a little more hopeful, a story of stone heads that disappeared - and reappeared hundreds of years later. Plus: a few examples of how cathedrals are full of surprises, and not always high-minded ones.
After 184 Years, a Cousin of the French President Finds Notre Dame’s Missing Stone Heads (People)
13 Facts About Notre-Dame Cathedral (Mental Floss)
What you didn’t know about Britain’s churches and cathedrals (Telegraph UK)
Tax Day gives a lot of us the blues - which, as it turns out, actually kind of works. April 15th is the birthday of one of the greatest singers of all time: the Empress of the Blues, Bessie Smith. As for taxes, we have some news you can use - at least if you're an unsavory character. According to US tax law, stolen property must be reported as income.
Forebears: Bessie Smith, The Empress Of The Blues (NPR Music)
It’s True: You Must Report Income from Thievery on Your Tax Form (Tax Foundation)
During the Cold War, the CIA flew U2 planes all over the globe, to see what the Soviets were up to. And in doing so, documented all kinds of geographical features from up above. Two researchers decided to go back through these photos - not for their Cold War history but for archaeology. And it turns out, these photos showed a lot. Plus: this weekend in Woodstock, Illinois, the Great Lakes Steelpan Festival is getting underway.
Declassified U2 spy plane images reveal bygone Middle Eastern archaeological features (Phys.org)
Great Lakes Steelpan Festival
The surest sign of spring is neither the calendar nor the weather. It’s the reappearance of Peeps, which are the stuff of candy and cultural legend now. Not only are there billions of them produced, eaten and/or used in dioramas every year, there's a PeepsMobile, a converted Volkswagen Beetle with a giant yellow Peep on top, and there's PeepResearch.org - an entire website devoted to researching what happens to the candies when you mess with them.
The sticky, sugary history of Peeps (Vox)
Emory pair unlocks the mystery of Peeps (Emory University)
RAM 10th Annual International PEEPS Art Exhibition (Racine Art Museum)
The family that races hot rods together... stays together. For National Siblings Day, the story of Brittany, Ashley and Courtney Force, three sisters who have found an unusual way to spend time together: they're professional funny car drivers. And if you're not celebrating Abby Machuda Day yet, you will, once you hear what she did for her siblings.
Brittany Force still racing NHRA cars after sisters retire (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Llano girl honored for saving siblings, cat from Llano house fire (KXAN)
Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville invented a way to document sound more than a decade before Thomas Edison developed his wax cylinders. So why isn't he remembered as the king of recording? Because he hadn't figured out one key feature: playing the sound back. Plus: ever wondered what it's like inside an anechoic chamber, which masks almost every sound possible? Really quite and kind of freaky.
What Was the First Sound Ever Recorded by a Machine? (Time)
The Phonautograms of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville (FirstSounds.org)
'Quietest place on Earth' finds purpose in healing humans (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)
Researchers out of Brigham Young University have been working to quiet one of the most ungodly noises in the world - airplane bathrooms. Turns out changing the design of the pipes can make it a lot quieter, unlike that snoring guy in the next row. Plus: a dude in New Mexico has the worst luck with his own restroom.
A New Design Promises to Quiet the Terrifying Roar of Flushing an Airplane Toilet (Gizmodo)
This Is What Happens When You Flush the Airplane Toilet (Travel and Leisure)
Man Locks Himself Out of Bathroom - Twice (Rio Grande Sun)
A long cold winter is behind us - unfortunately potholes are underneath us. In Michigan, 12 year old Monte Scott counted 50 potholes on his street alone - and started filling them in himself. Fortunately, a research team at Drexel University is working on a bioconcrete that might stop potholes before they start. Plus: ever wanted to see an opera performed in a swimming pool? Come to Appleton, Wisconsin this weekend and you'll have your chance.
12-year-old boy fed up with potholes; fixes them himself (Black Hills Fox)
To protect concrete from road salt, Drexel engineers have an odd idea: bacteria (Philly.com)
Opera makes a splash at Lawrence University (FOX 11)
It was 50 years ago today that a doctor implanted a temporary artificial heart in a patient - a pretty big leap forward in heart surgeries, given that transplants were only about a year old back then. Plus: since April is National Donate Life Month, and the theme is “Life is a beautiful ride,” complete with bicycles, the story of a very unusual kind of ride - a nearly naked backwards bike ride down a Florida highway.
Texas surgeon implanted world's 1st artificial heart (Chicago Tribune)
National Donate Life Month (DonateLife.org)
Nearly nude Florida man rides bike backward on Miami Interstate (WTSP)
An apple a day keeps the coming war with robots away? A New Zealand company is testing a robot that’s supposed to move through an apple orchard, spot ripe fruit, yank it from the tree and bring it back to the farmer. They're either helping us do a hard job or taking the first step toward an agricultural Skynet. Oh, and speaking of food-related horror: a strongman found out what happens when you order - and try to eat - literally everything on Taco Bell's menu.
Your Apples May Soon Be Picked By Laser-Shooting Robots (Wired)
Brian Shaw Devours Nearly Everything on The Taco Bell Menu (Muscle and Fitness)
You can apply for just about any set of numbers and letters to adorn your motor vehicle, so long as they’re a) not already taken and b) abide by your state’s rules. California residents have been putting the Golden State's rules to the test in some odd ways lately. Plus: an LA museum dedicated to the wild world of velvet paintings is trying to stave off financial troubles. Hopefully they won't take any money strategies from those dogs playing poker.
The DMV Reviewed Thousands of Hilarious Vanity Plate Applications Last Year. These Are Our Favorites (LA Magazine)
Help Save Velvet Paintings (OK Whatever)
I spent part of the weekend chasing down a little bit of musical and culinary history in Greenfield, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee. That’s home to Organ Piper Pizza - as you eat, an organist plays an enormous Wurlitzer organ, which also controls stage lights, disco balls, a mechanical gymnast and a family of singing ducks. Plus - a story that's, amazingly, not an April Fool's Day prank, in which police in Madrid respond to a guy on a bus sharpening a big carving knife (!)
The Carlson Kids Visit Organ Piper Pizza (YouTube)
Remembering the Dining Fad of 'Pizza and Pipes' (CityLab)
False alarm: Knife-wielding man on Metro revealed to be expert ham cutter (El Pais)
On this day in 1861 the tiny European country of San Marino presented President Abraham Lincoln with honorary citizenship. There’s another leader named Lincoln who’s aspiring to greatness, and may yet achieve it - if, like Honest Abe, she can clean up the big mess in front of her. She's the new mayor of Fair Haven, Vermont: Lincoln the goat. Plus: Brian Chirls took the approval ratings from Richard Nixon’s presidency and matched them up with music and sound effects from the original Nintendo game The Legend of Zelda.
Lincoln the goat sworn in as Fair Haven's new mayor, immediately defecates (Burlington Free Press)
To The Regent Captains of San Marino (University of Michigan Library)
The Legend of Nixon (Kottke.org)
It's Opening Day - and no matter who wins and who loses, baseball fans will have something to say about the umpires. The first pro ump in the big leagues was a man named Billy McLean - who, when he wasn't calling balls and strikes, was occasionally challenging hecklers to fistfights.
Link: The first major-league umpire was a Philadelphian (Philly.com)
This year’s big growth industry: buying stuff online while you’re hammered. That's according to a new survey that finds one in four respondents admitted to buying stuff on the internet while they've been drinking. Drunk buying is now a $39.4 billion dollar industry... would this be a good time to mention this show is on Patreon?
Americans Spent Over $39 Billion While Drunk Shopping Last Year (Forbes)
Long Island Shopper Cashes In Coupon 36 Years After Deal Was First Offered (CBS New York)
Brady has an eight year old in the house today! To celebrate the big guy's birthday, we're taking a look at the many great eight year olds out there, making things a little more awesome. And check out the Memphis Zoo's new Lego sculptures, including a 625-pound Lego polar bear family that you definitely wouldn't want to step on.
The heart-warming tale of the 8-year-old chess champion is quintessentially American (Washington Post)
8-year-old dancer refuses to give up after losing her leg (CBS News)
Why an inspirational eight-year-old joined more than 100 people swapping their comfy bed for a cold floor (Gloucestershire LIve)
Horry County 8-year-old praised for emergency actions after twin brother has seizure (WMBF)
Giant Lego Brick Sculptures (Memphis Zoo)
Researchers in Europe make a stunning discovery: playing hip-hop to cheese makes it taste better. Maybe they should have played a few songs to a collector's coin in Germany that's not getting a great reaction.
Link: Cheese Exposed To Hip Hop Tastes Better (Swissinfo.ch)
Link: A German Mint Just Released A Coin Commemorating 70 Years Of Currywurst, And It's Unspeakably Ugly (Quartz)
Millennial memes are a crock. They're not really killing lunch. Or bar soap. Or doorbells. But an often-discarded piece of their beloved avocados may end up saving lunch, thanks to a new kind of cutlery made from bioplastics.
This weekend head to Virginia City, Nevada for the 41st International Collegiate Mining Games. Can your college hang with the Mackay Muckers of the University of Nevada - Reno in gold panning and jackleg drilling?
That feeling when you've had a horrible day and everything's gone wrong and all you really want is to sit down and have a beer... and then a beer shows up. It's the real-life story of a giant flood, two guys who lived through it, and what they found after.
Lincoln Journal Star: 'A gift sent from the heavens' — Magic beer fridge found in flooded field