History Schmistory: January 19. Under the Neon Lights!

1915: The Neon Tube sign is patented by Georges Claude, and later exploited by Las Vegas.
-So, you might already know that neon is one of the “noble” gases of the periodic table, which glows an orangey-red color when electrons run through it. But what about all the other colors on a typical “neon” sign? Well, sorry to say, those aren’t neon. To get shades of blue, typically argon is used with a dash of mercury. Helium can be used for a nice pink glow; xenon radiates a cool purple, while krypton yields- what? Green, you say? Nope, sorry Superman, it has more of an off-white tinge. From there, certain gases can mingle to produce colors like green and yellow, or sometimes the tubes are coated with fluorescent powders to tweak the shading. But neon typically doesn’t play nicely with others, so it’s only used to produce that one color.
(Check out Vegas Vic’s scarf. There’s your neon.)

There is another noble gas that wasn’t invited to the party: Radon. That stuff is radioactive, yo.

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Vegas Vic,By  Joe Gauder [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

History Schmistory: January 19. Under-where?

January 19, 1935. Introducing Tightey-Whities!

Cryptozoology Break: The Unicorn

unicorn-245642_640Who knows exactly how the unicorn was gradually ascribed its girly connotation… Possibly it started in medieval times when it was believed that the unicorn could be tamed by only the purest of maidens. Regardless, the legend of the unicorn goes waaaaay back, much much further than She-Ra and My Little Pony. Archeologists have discovered depictions of a one-horned-horsey-creature on cave walls dating back to the Paleolithic era, around 14,000 BC. In many forms, the unicorn pops up in folklore across nearly every ancient region you can think of, often as a creature to be feared. From the Nordics to the Middle East to Africa to the Far East, the unicorn has donned many names and a variety of manifestations: Dragon-like, larger than an elephant, glowing red eyes,  glowing blue eyes, with the body of a bull, the hooves of a deer, the tail of a lion, the beard of a goat; faster than a wildebeest, more ferocious than a tiger, and more elusive than Cleopatra on roller skates; while its trademark horn runs the gamut from short and black to long, sharp and super-sparkly. Famed writers throughout history have avowed the unicorns existence, from Aristotle to Pliny the Elder to Confucius to Genghis Khan to Julius Caesar to the dudes who wrote the Bible! Even Marco Polo swears he saw one while traveling the Silk Road, though we’re pretty sure it was just a Rhinoceros. (Don’t tell him we said that.) So what do you think? Could they have possibly existed? Or are we just beating a dead unicorn. HA HA HA! In any event, we think it’s time to bring the unicorn back to a place of gender-neutral allurement…

THIS JUST IN: Unicorn poop is apparently rainbow colored and tastes delicious…

History Schmistory: January 18. Alo-hoy!

1778: Famed explorer Captain James Cook serendipitously stumbles upon the “Sandwich Islands” (Hawaii.) On his second visit in 1779, he is killed by natives for sending back his pastrami on rye. Ironically during his time on the Islands Cook witnessed men being just that, cooked!

John Webber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

John Webber [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

History Schmistory: January 18. Heads Up!

January 18, 1916. Meteorite Strikes in Missouri!

Culture Buzz: The baguettes come out at midnight…

If you have ever been to France you know that the French love their baguettes. You see them everywhere. If you spent a day counting all the baguettes you see in France you would be left with some unfathomable number. The French will eat just about everything on a baguette, but many believe the best thing to have on a baguette is, more baguette. They also tend to be very serious about their baguettes, by law you can only make them a certain way. That’s soooo French! The rural French have been known to travel for miles into town for a fresh baguette, while on the busy streets baguettes are more abundant than Starbucks coffee. Sit at a corner cafe, hopefully not a Starbucks, and you’re likely to see more baguettes passing by than people! The baguettes just might be plotting some sort of hostile takeover. (They do happen to make a surprisingly reliable weapon when backed into a corner…)

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Anyhoo, since bakers are only human, they can’t stay up all hours to fulfill every fresh baguette emergency. So, it’s about time somebody came up with a way to get your baguette fix at any hour of the night. Enter Jean-Louis Hecht, baker extraordinaire, who built a special vending machine/oven that warms up and serves you a baguette on the spot. Brilliant!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpWZk3ucWrw]
Now the hungry masses can be served at Jean-Louis’ bakery through the night while, presumably, he relaxes at home with a baguette :)

History Schmistory: January 17. Toot-Toot!

1929: Popeye the Sailor Man, a cartoon character created by Elzie Segar, first appears in the Thimble Theatre comic strip. Deluded children begin eating spinach with the hopes of growing freakishly large forearms.

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History Schmistory: January 17. How Uncivil!

January 17, 1918. Civil War in Finland!

GO THERE! Desert getaway? Take your skis!

Curtis Palmer 'Ski Dubai panorama' June 20th 2007 via Flickr, creative commons attribution

Curtis Palmer ‘Ski Dubai panorama’ June 20th 2007 via Flickr, creative commons attribution

If you’re going to build a mall in the desert, you must always include an indoor ski resort.
Well, that’s how they do it in Dubai anyway…

Speaking of Dreamers… And Travelers!

Did you know Martin Luther King traveled over 6 million miles in his short lifetime? Marco can’t hold a candle to that! Here’s some more interesting facts about today’s celebrated American icon:

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