Automatic Updates from New Blog

Hey, everyone! I’ve got some great news–I’ve finally figured out a way to give you guys access automatically to all of the posts showing up on the new Bythepathlesstraveled blog!

I know that it’s a pain to head on over there for new posts. But now, fear not! This is how it works:

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So click on the cog and you’ll see the five most recent posts from the new bythepathlesstraveled blog. Woohoo! In the cog there’s also the option to subscribe, and you can also view the archives if you don’t feel like scrolling all the way down. The magnifying glass is a search bar too, so feel free to search for a post if you are looking for something specific. 

I’m trying to make things a lot easier for you guys if I can, so if you have any suggestions, PLEASE let me know.

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So basically, I’m going to attempt to shortlink to some of my major post categories. Once you’re at the first post, you can use the navigation arrows on the vertical red bar to the left of the page to keep reading through chronologically. (Don’t worry, the arrows will be there!) 😀

To check out my China Series, click here:

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To check out my Europe/Hungary Series, click here:

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To check out my Flagship Niagara Series, click here:

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To check out my Things You Thought You Knew Series, click here:

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To check out my Japan Series, click here:

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Things You Thought You Knew #13: Did Pirates Have Workman’s Comp?

What You Thought You Knew: Pirates were lawless sailors who buried treasure and used it on women, alcohol, and other pleasures.

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What You Didn’t Know: Pirates get a bit of a bad rap, especially with the Pirates of the Caribbean series reinforcing some of the stereotypes about buried treasure and unpredictable alliances. Sure, the goal of a pirate is, after all, to pillage (steal things), usually from merchant ships, especially those carrying silk or spices that could be sold at a high price.

However, it’s not fair to assume that pirates didn’t look after each other; most (respected) pirate ships had a constitution that included workman’s comp for sailors who lost limbs in battle. In fact, the treatise was usually very detailed, and the most frequent money allotments went like this:

Loss of a right arm: 600 pieces

Left arm: 500

Right leg: 500

Left leg: 400

Eye: 100

Finger: 100

Some ships even paid for the replacement of a wooden peg leg, since good ones were more expensive (but worth it). Captains and crew were especially likely to help in the purchase of a new one if the old one was lost in defense of the ship (for example, during an enemy boarding attempt that was thwarted).

Now You Know: that workman’s comp dates back even to pirates.

Things You Thought You Knew #12: How to Survive Falling Out of an Airplane

What You Thought You Knew: If you fall out of an airplane when it’s at cruising altitude (around 35,000 feet), there’s no way you’ll survive.

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What You Didn’t Know: While I wouldn’t use the word “many” to describe the number of people who have survived falls from airplanes, they do exist, and they’re probably a bit more numerous than you’d think.

The fact that people survive, though, is not the primary goal of this post. It is, after all, about “things you thought you knew” — so let’s address some things you probably thought are good for you if you’re falling from such a height.

Myth #1: Try to land in the water, since it will give out and break your fall.

Yeah, no. Scientists have shown that, if you’re coming from above roughly 1,000 feet, water is no better than concrete. Falling less than that (maybe a few stories)? Definitely find some water if you can. But at the velocity you’ll be going after a fall from a plane, water may actually be more dangerous than landing on concrete — at least with concrete, when you get knocked out from the impact you won’t drown.

If anything, you want to try to aim for sloped hills that you’ll roll down afterward, soft things like snow, swamps, hay, or bushes (or trees, if you deem the landscape so not-good-for-falling-people that the risk of being impaled outweighs the rest), or even aluminum/tin roofs or glass buildings and cars. All are better than the good ol’ ground.

Myth #2: Land on your feet, no matter what.

While it is best to land on the balls of your feet (with your knees bent) if at all possible, there are some situations where trying to do so would put you in more danger. If it will take a contortion to get you feet-down and you run the risk of landing on your side or in some sort of “incomplete” flip-over to your feet, the next best option, if you can believe it, is to land on your face.

Make no mistake — your “face” is not the same as your “head.” DON’T land on your head (especially the back of your head). It’s for this reason that you should lace your fingers together behind your head with your elbows facing forward during impact. But your face has a lot of extra cartilage and bones that can help to absorb the shock before it reaches your brain. You’re not going to come out looking like Natalie Portman, but you might just live.

That being said, do try not to land on your face at all. Feet, please.

Myth #3: I’ll have a lot of time to steer myself to a good place to land.

Well, yes and no. Yes, if you fall from cruising altitude, you’ll have around 2 or 2.5 minutes of free-falling. But you won’t be conscious for all of it. There’s not much oxygen up there, so you’ll be knocked out for about a minute of your total falling time. Still, one minute remaining is plenty to give you time to look around and think, so don’t panic.

It’s possible to steer yourself while in the air, and put your body into an arch to slow yourself down as much as possible.

Myth #4: I should try to get as far away from debris as possible while falling.

While it’s true that any debris (such as from a broken plane wing) could be dangerous, if you can in any way get hold of a piece of plane, DO IT. People who hit the ground while attached to a piece of debris have a significantly higher chance of survival than those who don’t (31 survivors to 13). These people are often called “wreckage riders.”

So, snag some debris, aim for a snowy hilltop, and enjoy your few minutes of contemplating the essence of life as you fall to your (probably still quite likely) death. But keep a good attitude — of the people who have survived, almost all claim that their “never give up” attitude helped them to think calmly and clearly. And they’re still alive — that says something.

Now You Know: what to do in case you fall out of an airplane.

Things You Thought You Knew #11: Is Immortality Possible?

What You Thought You Knew: All living things die.

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What You Didn’t Know: From a purely biological perspective (we’re not going to touch on religion today), it seems that for some, life need not end at all. Nor does it need to be restricted to the confines of time as we understand it.

The nature of space and light is at the heart of how humanity can cheat time (but perhaps not death after all). Light is not bound by time. Therefore, if a human were to accelerate to the speed of light, he would not be aging while the things around him continued to. This, however, applies only to the concept of time. It seems to me that his body would still physically age and die, but the concept of time (his actual calendar age) would cease for as long as he remained moving at the speed of light (as per the Theory of Relativity’s Lorentz equations).

Unfortunately, theoretical immortality isn’t enough for most people. And that’s why people are inferior to jellyfish.

Yes, that’s right. What humankind has been trying to achieve for centuries, jellyfish get right from birth. The Turritopsis Dohrnii, otherwise affectionately (and appropriately) known as “The Immortal Jellyfish,” does not seem to die. In fact, it grows in reverse. This is why Turris are also known as the “Benjamin Buttons of the Sea.”

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As the Turri ages to the point that it is time to die, it scoops itself together into a little ball, jiggles its cells around a bit (to turn them into different cells, in much the way that stem cells work), then continues on its way. This process of change reverts the jellyfish back to its early life stages. Think of it as a chicken turning back into an egg and then hatching again. As far as humans have studied, this process can be performed an indefinite number of times.

For all those years, people were looking for magic gems, elixirs, the fountain of youth….They should have been looking for jellyfish.

Now You Know: that some living things might just live forever.

Things You Thought You Knew #10: Are Black Cats Bad Luck?

What You Thought You Knew: A black cat crossing your path could cause bad luck.

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What You Didn’t Know: Whether you’re superstitious or not, the fact remains that many people believe that black cats cause bad luck. It’s why they’re popular Halloween symbols and why they’re the least adopted animals at rescue shelters. But it seems like the whole superstition may be a little overplayed.

In ancient Egypt, black cats were seen not only as acceptable but even as praiseworthy, so harming one was considered an extremely serious offense (of the same degree as, say, murder). The Japanese consider black cats to be good luck, and even in Europe and early America where the bulk of black cat myths existed, sailors still believed that a black cat on the docks boded well for their voyage. In fact, a black cat on the ship was extremely good luck, especially if it approached you on deck. If you threw it overboard…well, you might as well have been tying your own noose, they say.

But I’m not really interested in the superstitions about how witches can turn into black cats at night (the prevalent opinion especially during the times surrounding the Salem Witch Trials). So instead, I wanted something more factual. In what percent of people does the presence of a black cat immediately precede “bad luck” (negative consequences)?

As it turns out, bad “luck” happens to the best of us, and the kitties don’t have anything to do with it. In a statistical analysis of black cat encounters immediately prior to a coin toss, each person tested did report a slight drop in favorable outcomes (choosing the correct side), but the average success/failure rate was still within that person’s normal range, as proven by prior testing.

To ensure that the study wasn’t too biased, the participants were then also exposed to WHITE cats (thought to bring good luck) crossing their paths. Again, the average success/failure rate changed, but it still remained within the person’s average. It is interesting to note, however, that the black cat made the rate go down slightly and the white cat granted success for the first few throws after its appearance. In both cases, averages returned to normal quickly.

It seems, then, that the cats had nothing to do with the averages, which would have been fluctuating anyway, regardless of whether or not cats walked in front of the participants.

Now You Know: That there is no statistical proof that black cats cause negative outcomes.

Things You Thought You Knew #9: Do Animals Have Pets?

What You Thought You Knew: Animals may live in packs and have close friendships, but only humans have pets.

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What You Didn’t Know: The realm of pet ownership really does extend to the animal kingdom, but it will be easier to explain what examples of animal friendship are not pet-keeping before going on to who actually owns pets.

For example, I personally do not consider Tarra and and Bella, the semi-famous dog & elephant duo, as an example of an elephant keeping a dog as a pet. This is because Tarra (the elephant) did not personally take care of Bella in a way that pet owners do. This type of caregiving behavior can be seen a little more fully in Koko, the famous gorilla used in linguistic experiments to try to teach animals sign language and prove that they had language capabilities.

Koko did have a “pet” cat, and although she was not entirely responsible for the care of the cat, she did play an important part in raising it. Well-documented incidents of her grooming the cat and even showing an understanding of the cat as a “living-partner” by blaming the cat for things gone wrong and destroyed in their shared living space show that Koko viewed the cat not just as a friend but as a partner in life in the same way that humans co-exist with pets. The only qualm I have with calling the cats (either All Ball or Moe) Koko’s “pets” is that Koko was domesticated and somewhat guided in how to treat these animals.

This brings us, then, to the real pet owners of the animal kingdom — otters. Don’t judge; a pet rock still counts as a pet! Otters search far and wide for their perfect, compatible rock, and once they’ve found it, they care deeply for it, protect it, and ensure that it survives as long as possible. Because otters are known for being some of the most intelligent tool-users, it should come as no surprise that an otter’s pet rock is so important — a rock that can crack open shellfish so perfectly is certainly to be cherished! When an otter has finished using its pet rock, it has extra folds of skin that it uses to help hold it and carry it along. When possible, it carries the rock on its stomach when floating. Interestingly, this is also the place where it cradles its young.

Pet rocks = little inanimate baby otters.

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Now You Know: That some animals do keep pets, even if they may be pet rocks.

Things You Thought You Knew #8: Can You Name Any of These Everyday Things?

What You Thought You Knew: …You thought you knew the words for all these things? How many do you actually know? Answers at the bottom — test yourself!

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Numero Uno: What’s it called when people stand like this, with their arms bowed out and their hands on their hips?

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Number Two: What are the light rays called that come out from the sky due to cloud formations like the one above?

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Number Three: We’ve all seen these metal thingies on a pencil. But what are they called?

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Number Four: What’s it called when you say a word so many times that it sounds weird and doesn’t sound like it means anything any more?

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Number Five: What’s the name for the colors and spots you see when you rub your eyes?

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Number Six: This thingy…you know, where your arm-hole is in your clothes? What’s the real name? I bet designers don’t call it an “arm-hole.”

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Number Seven: The nice smell after it rains has a name too. Any guesses?

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Number Eight: You knew this was coming, because virtually no one knows what the plastic or metal casings on the ends of shoelaces are called.

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Number Nine: The space between your thumb and pointer finger is called what again?

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Number Ten: What’s it called when you hear the lyrics wrong?

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1: Standing like that is called AKIMBO or ARMS AKIMBO

2: Those rays of sunlight are called CREPUSCULAR RAYS

3: The metal part of a pencil is called a FERRULE

4: When you repeat words so much that they lose meaning, you’ve engaged in SEMANTIC SATIATION

5: The pretty colors you see when you rub your eyes are PHOSPHENES

6: The arm-hole of a piece of clothing is the ARMSCYE

7: The pleasant smell of rain is called PETRICHOR

8: That weird piece of plastic on your shoelaces is an AGLET

9: The space between your thumb and first finger is your PURLICUE

10: When lyrics are misheard, it’s called MONDEGREEN

Now You Know: A few new words!