Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brave? Foolish? Or Maybe a Little Bit of Both?

Thirteen-year-old Laura Dekker has one simple wish. The Dutch girl would like to sail around the world in the yacht she's named Guppy. By herself.

She would need to miss two years of school, but if she's given permission to go, Laura will be the youngest person ever to make a solo trip around the globe.

This isn't some crazy fantasy. Laura, who was born on a yacht was given her first boat at age six, and she's been sailing solo for the past three years.

So who's stopping her from breaking the record? Not her parents--they're totally on board. No, Dutch social workers have stepped in to prevent poor Laura from living her dream. They say it's too dangerous for a girl her age.

How do we feel about that?

Read more here, and then write in to vote yay (she should go) or nay (keep that kid on dry land). I'll forward your thoughts to the Dutch government. (JK)

(Below: Is Laura aware of what's in the ocean?)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kaddie

Your anonymous best friend told us it was your birthday!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Parkour Bear

So there was a bear loose in the suburbs of LA yesterday. But it wasn't just any bear. This bear was AMAZING. He was hurdling over tall fences like they were nothing! I'm telling you, he was the bear equivalent of parkour legend, David Belle.

Bear video here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This Guy Has the Right Idea About Aliens

Check out these awesome sculptures of the kind of aliens I'm expecting to show up in my front yard any day now. (I am kidding. Kind of.)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Is This A Mini UFO?

One of the things that amuses me most is the lack of imagination people display when it comes to extraterrestrials. More often than not, we depict them as the same size and shape as ourselves. But if aliens exist (and my personal vote is: YES THEY DO), it's unlikely they'd be anything like us. (My personal vote: GIANT BENEVOLENT SLUGS.)

Still, it feels strange to find stories in which the aliens aren't quite what we expect. For instance, this afternoon I came across the photo shown above on the Pink Tentacle blog. The caption said it's a mini-UFO that was captured by a bunch of Japanese kids in 1972. (How mini? It was roughly the size of a hat.)

My first reaction was, "yeah right." But hey, who's to say that we weren't visited by beings so diminutive in stature (really short E.T.s)?

Read the story here and let's hear what you think.

Friday, August 07, 2009

On a Lighter Note

I LOVE beluga whales. Not only are they cute, they may just save your life!

Read more here.

Killer Seaweed

Whatever you do, stay away from the beaches of northern France this summer! Other vacation spots may have man eating sharks or giant jellyfish waiting to greet hapless bathers, but an even deadlier creatures has recently washed up on Brittany's beaches. Killer seaweed.

This year, pollution from French farms has led to a bumper crop of a seaweed known as sea lettuce. It's harmless when fresh, but as it rots, it releases deadly hydrogen sulphide gas. The gas, which smells like rotten eggs, can kill a person in minutes.

Recently a popular beach had to be closed after a man and his horse succumbed to the fumes. The man recovered. His horse, unfortunately, did not.

Isn't it about time for us to start cleaning up the messes we've made?

More here.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Color That Keeps the Ghosts Away

I love knowing the crazy origins of everyday things. Take, for example, the blue shown above. You see this and similar "watery" hues throughout the Southern US. "Haint Blues," as they're called, are used to paint ceilings, shutters, and sometimes even entire buildings. They're lovely, of course, but they serve a surprising purpose.

Here's the story, via the wonderful blog Curious Expeditions . . .

Known as the Gullah or Geechee people, the original Haint Blue creators were descendants of African slaves who worked on rice plantations in South Carolina and Georgia. . . . They are well-known for preserving their African heritage more than any other African American community. They kept alive the traditions, stories, and beliefs of their ancestors, including a fear of haints.

Haints, or haunts, are spirits trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. These are not your quiet, floaty, sorrowful ghosts, they are the kind you don’t want to mess with, and the kind you certainly don’t want invading into your humble abode looking for revenge. Luckily, the Gullah people remembered an important footnote to the haint legend. These angry spirits have a kryptonite; they cannot cross water. The safest place would be in an underwater bubble, or perhaps to surround your house with a moat. But the Gullah people had a much more elegant solution. They would dig a pit in the ground, fill it with lime, milk, and whatever pigments they could find, stir it all together, and paint the mixture around every opening into their homes. The haints, confused by these watery pigments, are tricked into thinking they can’t enter.

Awesome! Read more here.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Inside the Empty Quarter, the Sand Sings

For centuries, the barren desert of Arabia's "Empty Quarter" was said to be haunted by evil spirits and djinn. Terrified travelers often reported hearing strange sounds and ominous music coming from the dunes.

We now know that those sounds were a phenomenon known as the Singing Sands. But that doesn't make them any less eerie. Listen to them here and here.

A Message for Anna and Sophia

I'm thinking about you guys, and I hope things get a little brighter soon. I thought you might enjoy this picture. In case you can't tell, it's the end of the rainbow.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Swamp Sports Spectacular!

(Photograph by Cathal McNaughton/Reuters)

I'm a pretty adventurous lady. I've done the breast stroke through dark caves in the rain forests of Belize. I've eaten things that would make most people keel over with disgust. And I've never met a roller coaster I didn't like.

But hats off to the person in the picture above, cause I would NEVER, EVER participate in the Northern Ireland Bog Snorkeling Championships. Sure you get flippers. And sure you only have to swim 360 feet.

But imagine wearing a snorkeling mask and coming face-to-face underwater with THIS.

(More here.)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How to See Through Frosted Glass

Who knew it was so simple? Just make sure this trick isn't used against YOU!

PS: Happy belated birthday, Anonymous.