The Wonderfully Weird + Whimsical Digest No. 2April 17, 2015
By Jess Wangsness,
Now that I’m a couple of months into my own personal Twitter adventure, I’ve collected so many little factoids and stories that I often feel overwhelmed by the waves of sheer randomness. And this abundance of information has led me to believe that I need to start a therapy group for people to share unexpected factoids – after all, keeping the world’s delightful randomness to yourself is just plain sad.
People need to know these things. And we need to marvel at them.
Did you know that bananas are classified as both a fruit and an herb? It’s true.
Oregon’s sublime Crater Lake is deep enough to fully submerge 1.5 Empire State Buildings. You need to tell this to someone, don’t you?
There is a real woman, also in Oregon, who owns a real cuddle shop. For $1 per minute, she’ll hug you so you can feel some genuine intimacy. Or is it fake intimacy? I don’t have the answer. See? That’s both strange and sort of heartbreaking.
But I’ve found a few particular gems this month – and I want to share them with you.
1) The state of Florida is an odd place – with trailer parks built a stone’s throw away from multi-million-dollar mansions. Not to mention that you can buy a turtle from a roadside stand. Maybe it’s for this reason that Jacksonville native Ron Schroer, aka Boneshaker, creates wonderfully weird art projects aimed at making people smile. I discovered his latest creation – the Boneshaker Big Wheel – on Twitter a few weeks ago, and now I want one. Because it’s a bike, an all-terrain vehicle and a circus-inspired oddity all at once. You really have to see it to believe it. But then, you’ll probably want one, too.
2) I’m wild about maps in all their magical forms: spinning globes, foldable maps that resist your efforts to fold them EVERY SINGLE TIME, ancient pictograms carved in caves. Until last week, I had absolutely no idea that one of the country’s largest collections of maps is housed in a library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, of all places. When the American Geological Society’s finding slowed to a trickle in the 1970s, the organization sold its lofty headquarters in Manhattan and – resisting the urge to sell off its valuable assortment of maps, globes and atlases – held a national contest to find a home for the entire collection. UWM won the contest, and in 1978, 16 trucks transported the collection to the University. Just imagine… All those maps that inspired all those expeditions that led to all those discoveries that changed the known world.
3) I love history. And I really like it when history and legend collide in ways that can’t be teased out. Mental Floss featured an intriguing story that attempted to unpack the mystery behind the 12th-century tale of two strange children who randomly appeared in the English town of Woolpit. They didn’t speak the language, sported some strange threads, only ate raw beans – and their skin was green. Yes, green. The children managed to escape one of the deep pits designed to ensnare dangerous wolves (hence the town’s name, Woolpit). They were discovered by a reaper and brought to town, where a nice gent named Sir Richard de Calne gave them a home. Is the story true? Is it a weirdly woven historical-moment-turned-myth? Why was their skin green? There are a few interesting answers to the last question – but you’ll have to read the piece to find out.