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The One-Log House

One-Log House

Northern California’s famous redwood attraction

Highway 101 in northern California features many wacky roadside attractions, including a house carved out of a single, huge redwood log. But it's famous mostly just for claiming to be famous.
Karl "Charlie" Schwedler (right), Trumpeter Charly Tabor (left), unknown vocalist (center)

Charlie and His Orchestra

Swing music as Nazi propaganda

Hitler's government tried repeatedly to outlaw jazz, and especially swing, seen as symbolizing the enemy's values. But they also secretly created their own swing band as a vehicle for spreading propaganda.
Meat-filled kreplach in clear chicken soup for Rosh Ha'Shana

The Foods of Sukkot

Stuffing and symbolism

The Jewish holiday of Sukkot (or Feast of Tabernacles) is a harvest festival that features numerous stuffed foods. Several possible explanations have been advanced for that symbolism.
Cymothoa exigua

The Tongue-Eating Louse

A revolting-but-true fish story

One of the world's ickiest creatures is a parasite that attaches itself to the tongue of a fish and eventually replaces the entire tongue with itself. All together now: Ewwwwwwww.
Tree tumbo

Tree Tumbo

Mystery plant of the desert

One of the world's oddest plants looks like an ugly mass of leaves, but it can survive on the moisture from desert fog for thousands of years.
Jan Luyken, Zes mannen en twee vrouwen op de Dam voor het oude stadhuis levend verbrand (Six men and two women burned alive on the Dam in front of the old town hall), 1549


The third way of Christianity

Catholicism and Protestantism are not the only two forms of Christianity. A third category started with an emphasis on adult baptism and later focused on issues of peace, justice, and simple living.
Question marks

Tag Questions

You know what this is about, don’t you?

English has some clever ways to turn statements into questions, doesn't it? Tag questions serve useful social functions too, don't they?
The 826 Valencia facade

826 National

Pirates, spies, superheroes, and young authors

San Francisco has its very own pirate supply store, which serves as a front for a nonprofit organization that teaches writing skills to kids. Other local chapters have stores that sell supplies for superheroes, secret agents, time travelers, and magicians.
A propeller beanie

Propeller Beanies

The story of the geek’s icon

The little beanies with plastic propellers on top have become iconic (in America, at least) of science fiction fans and techie nerds of all kinds. But the cap's inventor never got the credit he deserved.
A Montezuma Oropendola

The Oropendola

Wacky gymnast of the bird world

Some tropical birds are known primarily for their colorful plumage. The Oropendola gets its name from its odd behavior: swinging around on tree branches like a gymnast. It's proof that birds just want to have fun.
A cochineal insect


Insect-based color

That bright red color in your food, drink, or lipstick no longer comes from that scary old Red #2 dye, but very possibly from ground-up bugs. Seriously.
Unknown Woman of the Seine

The Unknown Woman of the Seine

Breathing new life into a mystery

A mask allegedly made from the face of a woman who drowned in Paris near the beginning of the 20th century created intrigue, sparked fashion trends, and influenced the design of first aid training equipment.
Downtown Pittsburgh from Duquesne Incline in the morning


America’s most underappreciated dialect

Residents of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (and its surrounding area) have their own distinctive dialect of English called Pittsburghese.
Size comparison: Argentinosaurus (green), Apatosaurus (blue), Triceratops (orange)

The Argentinosaurus

Contender for the world’s largest dinosaur

The bones of one of the largest dinosaurs, and in fact one of the largest land creatures period, were unearthed in Patagonia in 1993. You can see them if you don't mind hearing a thing or two about, you know, evolution.
Diagram of an apparatus to measure the speed of light

Measuring the Speed of Light

Fun with mirrors and math

In the mid-1800s, long before lasers, digital computers, or atomic clocks, a French scientist devised a brilliant method for measuring the speed of light using rotating mirrors, some clever geometry, and a bit of math.

Today is…

Lumberjack Day

Lumberjacks in the crosscut saw event at the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan, Alaska
I cut down trees, I eat my lunch, I go to the lavat'ry. On Wednesdays I go shopping, and have buttered scones for tea. (And pancakes for breakfast, apparently.)

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