Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Have you ever dropped your phone and broken the screen? Because I haven’t. Oh, I’ve dropped my phone before but it’s never broken.* It seems like some people are cursed though, and break their phone every other week. You’ve seen these people, the ones whose screen looks like it was stomped on by a pissed off hippo. Anyway phone droppers, your worries are over. An enterprising young engineering student has invented the “Mobile Airbag” that deploys whenever you drop your phone. Genius really. Check it out.

*I once dropped my phone in the urinal at a restaurant. Awkward. 

      

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My sister Karen passed away one week ago, and it’s taken me awhile to even think about writing about her. The emotions are still raw and near the surface, and there’s just so much to say that I don’t know where to begin. Since I really have no idea where to start, I guess I’ll go back to the beginning . . .

My Mom and Dad had three children, starting with Karen, then Sara, then myself. I’ve always been really close with both of my sisters, and they’ve helped me out more times and in more ways than you can ever imagine. I love them both deeply. Today I will focus on Karen, who I’ve called Sis for as long as I can remember. I’m just going to write whatever thoughts come to mind, so stay with me . . .

Sis loved me unconditionally. She was my best friend, my secret-keeper, my confidante, my defender, my savior, my music sharer, my role model, my alter ego, and my rock. It didn’t matter what mistake I’d made or what trouble I’d gotten myself into, I knew I could go to her. Oh, she’d tell me if she thought I’d been an idiot or made a wrong decision, but I also knew that, no matter what, she would always love me. You could not find a better protector and defender than my sister Karen. She always had my back.

Sis’s emotions were always near the surface. She’d cry over anything. She’d cry while hearing a song, reading a book, or seeing a commercial on television.  I envied that, because she felt everything. Most of us sort of become hardened over time, jaded and a little immune to showing how we’re feeling, but not Sis. She had no problem showing us exactly how she was feeling, without embarrassment or regret. How many of us can say that?

Sis loved almost everybody. Oh, if you wronged me, another family member or a friend she could be your worst enemy, but she gave virtually everyone a chance. It’s an old cliché, but Sis never met a stranger. I remember being on Oak Island, a place we began visiting in 1978, and we’d just come back from dinner and were relaxing on the deck. Soon a couple walked up the steps, a man and woman I’d never seen before, and they were carrying a bottle of wine. Long story short Sis had walked up the beach earlier in the day, struck up a conversation with them, and ended up inviting them to our beach house. First off, who invites total strangers to your place while on vacation, and secondly, who shows up? That was the power of my sister’s personality.

And believe it or not, this happened several times over the years. Hell, I act like I’m on my phone to avoid people in the supermarket yet my sister made friends with total strangers wherever she went. Amazing.

As I said, Sis was always there for me. When my ex-wife and I split up in the early 00’s, the first person I told was Sis. Before you knew it I was living in the room over her garage, a place I remained for 6-months, and I knew I was welcome to stay longer. In addition, I wasn’t the first or last person to stay in that room. Sis welcomed more than a few people to stay there when they needed a helping hand.

Back in 1964 Sis did something that changed my life forever. I was on the couch in our living room, listening to music on one of those big stereo cabinets that were the size of a coffee table. I was playing an album by somebody, probably Bobby Vinton or Gene Pitney or somebody like that because it’s all we listened to at the time. Mom and Dad were big Al Martino and Dean Martin fans, so we had a few of those LPs in the collection too. Oh, we had some old Elvis records but mostly our home was a rock and roll free zone. But one day, in walks Sis . . .

She’d been to town shopping and immediately pulled the needle off the album that was playing, which annoyed the hell out of me. But before I could say anything, she shushed me and said, “Just listen.”

At that point the guitars kicked in, and the lyrics began: “Well she was just seventeen, if you know what I mean, and the way she looked, was way beyond compare . . .”

Yep, life as I previously knew it was over. Sis had dropped the needle on the album Introducing the Beatles, and I probably listened to it at least 1000 times in the months to follow. Sure, I probably would have discovered them anyway, but thanks to Sis I was clued in from the beginning.

Sis graduated from high school in 1966 and headed to Ohio University, where of course she fell right in with the counterculture movement of the late 60’s. My father, although a middle of the road Democrat, wasn’t real of fond of the long haired, free love, anti-war hippie culture. What made it worse was that Sis happily brainwashed her little brother every chance she got. I clearly recall one Sunday afternoon when my sister and her then boyfriend Jigger were pulling out of our driveway in their little Karmann Ghia, headed back to OU. As they drove off, Sis shot me a peace sign to which I immediately responded with one of my own. I then promptly received an ass-ripping from my Dad, quite clearly making his feelings known about those damn peace loving bohemian flower children. Sis? She was headed to Athens, headband, shades and bellbottoms on, windows down and hair blowing in the breeze.

Damn, she was cool.

Sis was a huge basketball fan, especially college basketball, and she understood the game. It was not uncommon for me to get a call at 10:30pm and suddenly be in the middle of a conversation like this:

“Are you watching Duke and Clemson? Clemson is getting screwed! Coach K is an asshole!”

Just another thing my sister and I had in common. Sis hated Duke.

My mother and Sis were the main reasons I became a teacher. I watched Mom, and then Sis, and the love they had for teaching, which in turn made me want to do it as well. Throughout my career I tried to emulate Sis and the way she treated kids with love and respect. Bottom line, I wouldn’t have been nearly the teacher I became without her influence.

There are a hundred other stories I could tell about Sis, a few that wouldn’t be appropriate for this site.

No worries, Sis. We’ll keep those private.

My sister Karen knew things about me that nobody else on this earth knew, because there’s nobody I trusted more. Like I said, she never judged, and her unconditional love was an incredible thing. I’m going to miss it more than anyone can ever imagine.

As I mentioned earlier, Sis had been going to Oak Island since 1978. A couple weeks ago, even though she was sick, she went one last time. For the 40th straight year she got to breathe in the ocean air and smell the smells of the place she loved so much. I’m so happy her husband Army and the kids made that happen.

We lost Sis last Thursday, June 21st, at 12:03pm. She died at home and was surrounded by the family she loved so much as she passed. She left incredible, unforgettable memories with all of us, and she set an example that we can only hope to try and live up to. There was a steady stream of people at her services on Sunday, and every single person came out of pure love and respect for her.

Sis was everything you wanted in a sister and a best friend.

Sis and I talked every day, whether it be to share a song one of us had heard, a book one of us had read, or to just talk about politics or basketball or something that had happened in the news. Several times since she’s been gone I’ve started to reach out to her about something, only to remember that she’s not here anymore. It breaks my heart.

I know that someday the good memories will begin to outweigh the sad thoughts, and that someday we’ll smile and not cry when we think of her.

Someday.

On Thursday evening, the day Sis passed, I went to a local bar to meet some friends who knew I needed them. It’s a small place, it was early, and I was the first person there. The bartender asked if I wanted some music, I said yes, and she went over to play some tunes.

The first song she played? The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, one of my big sister’s favorite songs. I asked the bartender why she chose it and she said, “I don’t know. It just came to me.” 

Thanks Sis. I love you.

And I hope that you, Jigger, Andy and the rest are all sitting on a beach somewhere, laughing, telling stories, and remembering all the good times. Lord knows there’s plenty of them, and like you they will never, ever be forgotten.

That gorilla looking at the sky really got to me.

If you’re one of those blind, cynical bastards who can’t see that these elephants are saluting the humans that saved their baby you can go straight to hell. Clearly they’re giving thanks to the people who saved that little elephant. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times – years from now we’re going to finally understand the intelligence of animals and we’re going to shake our head at how we once treated them. Animals, man. God bless ’em.

Japan, man. They’ve come a long way since the that little incident back in ’45. Check out these great ideas from the Land of the Rising Sun.

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Holy . . .

We all need some uplifting photos from time to time, am I right? I’m here for you, kids. Click on the photos to read the captions.

Here’s the story. A stray dog had been sleeping in front of a bookstore in Brazil. He never bothered anyone, was friendly, and from time-to-time people would give him a scrap of food. Then one day he made his move. He snuck into the bookstore completely unnoticed and headed right to the shelves as if he was a normal customer. He then casually grabbed a book that he wanted and trotted out of the store. Eventually, somebody noticed him with the book and took it from him. As they did they were shocked to find out that the book that this lonely dog had stolen from the store was titled “Days of Abandonment,” which undoubtedly described the poor guy’s life perfectly. Coincidence? Probably. Fate? Maybe. Awesome? Hell yes. Bottom line, the dog became famous overnight and was adopted into a loving forever home. Check out the video and photos below. Way to go, dog.

So here’s the story. A man in St. Louis bought a house only to find a Pit Bull had been left in the basement. Turns out a squatter had been living in the house, then took off and abandoned this poor dog for God knows how long. The guy immediately called Stray Rescue of St. Louis, who showed up to save this poor pup. Due to the dog’s sheer joy of being rescued and her constant leaping about, the rescuers dubbed her Jumping Bean. How could anyone leave a dog behind like this? Unimaginable. Glad this story had a happy ending, man. Here’s to Jumping Bean.

Sometimes people just stumble into cool idea, ya know? For instance, some dude named Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called a magnetron while doing research for the Raytheon Corporation in 1945. During one experiment the candy bar in his pocket began to melt. Boom! The microwave was invented.*

*Fun Fact: The first microwave oven was called a Radarange, and it weighed 750 pounds, was 5 1/2 feet tall and cost about $5,000. That’s wild.

Anyway, other stuff like x-rays, artificial sweeteners and even penicillin were invented by mistake. Seriously, look it up. I wouldn’t like to ya. But on to the point of this blog, and that is what foods were invented by accident. Let’s do the thang . . .

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Yep, the delicious goodness called Chocolate Chip Cookies were a mistake. It happened in the 1930s when a restaurant owner named Ruth Wakefield added pieces of chocolate to her cookie mix, hoping the fragments would melt and turn the batter into a chocolate brown. The chips remained solid, however, people loved them, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. And thank God for that, right?

Note: My niece Sasha can cram more chocolate chips into a chocolate chip cookie than any human being on earth. That’s a fact.

POPSICLES

The popsicle was invented by an enterprising 11-year-old kid named Frank Epperson in 1905. You see, young Frank left a glass of soda on his San Francisco front porch by accident one night with a stirring stick still it. The next day, after a chilly night, the drink had frozen. Frank pulled the stick out and, to his surprise, the drink came with it. He went ahead and licked it and found it to be quite tasty. That fateful morning stuck with him, and years later, when he was 20, he patented them as Popsicles.

POTATO CHIPS

In 1853 there was a chef named George Crum at Moon Lake House Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, New York. After a customer sent back a batch of fried potatoes complaining that they were not thin enough, Chef Crum got pissed. He sliced the next batch of potatoes as thinly as he possibly could, fried and salted them, and sent them back out to the complainer. That’ll teach him! However, to George’s amazement the customer loved them, and soon the word of these crunchy fried potatoes spread across the region. The Potato Chip was born.

WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

First off, this has to be the most widely mispronounced word in the English language, amirite? People always say Worchester Sauce when it’s really Worcestershire sauce, damn it. Anywho, it was invented by the British chemists John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins in the 19th century. The pair were asked to create a tangy sauce for a client who liked Indian cuisine, but the product they created was so strong it was inedible. So, they put it away for a few years. Alas, when they pulled it off the shelf a few years later and tried it again they were stunned to find it was now perfect. Viola!

THE SANDWICH

Wait. What? ‘Tis true! The sandwich is named after John Montagu, the fourth Earl of Sandwich. It’s said that the Earl, who was quite the gambler, ordered his servant to bring him meat held between two pieces of bread so that he didn’t have to stop to eat a proper meal. Hence, the sandwich!

Note: This story is widely disputed. Still, I like it so I choose to believe it.

NACHOS

Ah, nachos. So good. But here’s how they came to be. Ignacio Nacho Anaya was a maître d’ at a restaurant called the Victory Club in Piedras Negras, Mexico. One day in 1943, a group of ten military wives crossed the border from Fort Duncan Army base and demanded some grub. Unable to track down the chef and faced with the ten hungry ladies, Anaya decided to improvise—he covered a plate of tostadas with grated cheese, passed it through a salamander (a broiling unit that heats food from above), and topped the whole thing off with jalapeños. Of course the women loved it, and one of the women dubbed the dish “Nacho’s Special”, which was later shortened to just “Nachos” when Anaya took the dish to his own place—Nacho’s Restaurant.

BEER

We’re pretty sure the Mesopotamians invented the delicious Barley Pop about 10,00 years ago. What happened, you ask? See, when Mesopotamians began storing grains for bread, their storage spaces occasionally became damp which caused the grains to ferment. This fermentation process resulted in a liquid that was the earliest beer. Some lucky Mesopotamian sampled the strange liquid, got a buzz, and the rest is history. On a related note, three years later the first beer gut was spotted.

HOT & SPICY CHICKEN

Hot & Spicy Chicken was invented in Nashville, and its origins are at the world famous Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. Restaurant lore traces the recipe back to current owner Andre Jeffries’ great-uncle Thornton Prince, an infamous womanizer. When she thought he was cheating, one of his jealous lover’s fed him extra-spicy chicken out of vengeance. Problem was, Thornton liked it so much that he began cooking it at his restaurant. Crazy but true.

COKE

Coke was invented in 1886 by a guy named John Pemberton. Pemberton was a wounded veteran who had become addicted to morphine, so he tried to create a replacement to stave off his addiction. Through some messing around in his pharmacy, he created a tonic that eventually became the original Coca Cola formula. As you may have heard, it contained small amounts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut. Let’s just say the original Coke could give you quite the high. Anyway, in 1887, another Atlanta pharmacist, Asa Candler, bought the formula for Coca Cola from Pemberton for $2,300. By the late 1890s, Coca Cola was one of America’s most popular fountain drinks.

CHEESE PUFFS

Here’s what happened. The Flakall Company up in Wisconsin invented a machine that crushed grains for animal feed without hulls and grain dust. A bro named Edward Wilson noticed that workers poured moistened corn kernels into the machine to reduce clogging. The machine got so hot that the moist cornmeal came out in puffy ribbons, hardening as it hit the air and fell to the ground. Wilson took the ribbons home, added oil and seasoning, and made the first cheese curls. Genius!

ICE CREAM CONES

At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, an ice-cream vendor had run out of bowls. Back then that’s how everyone ate ice cream, from a bowl. Earnest Hamwi, a neighboring concessionaire, rolled the waffle-like pastries he was selling (they were called Zalabis) into a cone so his neighbor’s ice cream could be held inside, just to lend a friend a hand. People loved it, and the Ice Cream Cone was born.

SLURPEES

Omar Knedlik, owner of a Dairy Queen franchise in Kentucky, had a fountain machine that kept breaking down, so he had to store his sodas in the freezer, sometimes for too long. His customers didn’t mind, though. In fact, they kept on ordering “those pops that were in the freezer a little bit longer.” Realizing that his disaster had turned into an opportunity, Knedlik built a new machine to deliberately produce that strange, frozen drink that everyone loved. Later, the ICEE dispenser was bought by more than 300 companies before 7-Eleven licensed it in 1965 and renamed the drink “Slurpees.”

And there ya have it, cool foods that were created entirely by accident? Cool, right?

Here’s a short but pretty cool story about my father. Dad is 91 now and not in the best of health, but he’s a pretty amazing guy who’s lived a pretty amazing life all things considered. I plan to write a story about all that one day, but for now I thought I’d share a short story about something that happened when I was perhaps 5-years old.

Dad was a smoker back then, but most men were in those days. Just look at an old photo from back then and you’ll see a cigarette in almost everyone’s hand. Hell, doctors smoked in their office as they examined you. I’m dead serious.

There’s probably a bottle of booze in his drawer too.

The cigarette folks even advertised using doctors. Crazy but true, man.

You cannot make this stuff up. What can I say? People didn’t know. And it was a different time, in many ways better, in some ways most certainly not.

Bottom line, the link about cigarettes and lung cancer had been known for a decade or so, but was for the most part ignored. Hence, Dad the smoker.

Let me take you back to the winter of ’60 or ’61, maybe even ’59. I don’t really remember. I just recall it was winter because there was a fire in our fireplace. It was in the evening, and I climbed up on Dad’s lap as he sat by the fire burnin’ a Lucky Strike.

At one point I reached up and tried to grab his cigarette, because hey, I was a kid. I got my hand slapped, and it was then the following conversation took place:

Dad: “Hey, what are you doing? Stop it.”

Me: “I want to try it!”

Dad: “You can’t. You’re too young and besides, cigarettes are bad for you.”

Me: “Then why are you smoking one?” 

Really, that was all it took. Because at that point Dad paused, looked at the cigarette in his hand, and flipped it into the fireplace.

And he never smoked another cigarette in his life.

I asked him about this recently, and he too remembered that evening. He told me he just didn’t feel he could justify smoking while at the same time telling me how bad it was for you. So he quit to prove a point, on the spot, for himself but mainly for me.

And I’m glad he did.

 

Genius stuff up in here.

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You know how when you buy something and you get all the parts mixed up? With this product the parts come packaged and in order.

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That’s an elevator button. It’s far away so you won’t have to wait once you’re at the door.

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Public bathroom door opener. No grabbing the nasty door handle.

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To prevent that battle to keep light from coming in through the crack.

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For those of us who flush with our foot in public toilets.

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Hell yes I need this. I always get it wrong. Every. Time.

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I’m sure there must be another one that says NO FREAKING WAY.

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For your dog! Yes!

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I’ve actually seen these. They tell you how many seconds are left until the light changes. GREAT idea.

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Self-explanatory. Perfect.

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Der.

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Great water recycler. Love it.

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Hard to run these lights.

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So you can push your bike up or down the steps.

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This has Sparky written all over it.

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The mom and toddler swing. Cool.

Admit it, you’ve never heard of Aloha Wanderwell, and that’s a damn shame. Here’s why . . .

Aloha Wanderwell was born on October 13th, 1906 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and would later become a United States citizen. Keep in mind that this was 14-years before women were allowed to vote, kids. Also, her birth name was Idris Welsh bit that was way to boring for our girl. Hence Aloha.

Anyway, she went on to become an internationalist, explorer, author, filmmaker, and aviatrix, because of course she did. While still a teenager, Aloha began her adventuring career when she met her traveling companion Walter “Cap” Wanderwell, in 1922. Walter was married at the time but that didn’t last long after the arrival of Aloha. They married in 1925 and had two children. As they continued to travel the world, Aloha performed on stage doing travel lectures while next to her a silent movie, “Car and Camera Around the World”, played. The Wanderwells recorded their world journeys on 35mm nitrate and 16mm film, which all reside in the vaults at The Academy Film Archives out in Hollyweird. You can find some of the stuff on YouTube, and it’s cool as hell.

But that’s not all. In 1930 and 1931, Aloha learned to fly a German seaplane named “Junker” that she would later land on an uncharted part of the Amazon River. After landing they set up camp at a ranch in a place called Cuiabá. They made several flights with the seaplane, once running out of fuel on the Paraguay River and becoming stranded. At this point Aloha lived among the Bororo people for 6-weeks. She even recorded and documented her time spent with them. Tough lady indeed.

In 1932, her husband Walt was shot and killed on his yacht in Long Beach, California, but authorities are 39% sure Aloha didn’t do it. Aloha later married another dude named Walter, this time with the last name Baker, and continued her travels. She ultimately visited over 80 countries and 6 continents while driving over 500,000 miles. She’s listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first woman to make that drive around the world. I presume she took a boat here and there, but with Aloha you never know.

So, let’s reiterate. Adventurer, around-the-world traveler, pilot, explorer, author, and film maker, all while the vast majority of women were staying at home, raising children and minding the house while their husband worked.

Quick note – You realize all of this was accomplished before Amelia Earhart, right? This was a woman way ahead of her time, folks.

Anyway, meet Aloha Wanderwell, forgotten American heroine. Amazing lady.

 

Gus and Beemo.

Gus Kenworthy is an American freestyle skier from Colorado who recently made headlines not related to sports. Why? Because he rescued 91-dogs from a dog meat farm in South Korea while participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

You read that right. 91.

“This morning I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea,” he wrote on Instagram. “Across the country, there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home.”

So, Gus decided to do something about it. “I adopted one of the pups, named her Beemo, and she’ll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she’s through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible!”

Gus arranged for 90 other dogs from the farm are taken from the facility to the United States and Canada for adoption with the help of Humane Society International.

Atta boy, Gus Kenworthy. Gold medals are great, but rescuing 91-dogs puts you on another level. You are a true American hero.

If these don’t make you smile you have no soul. Click on the first photo to scroll through the awesomeness.

So 76-year old George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic was interviewed by Rolling Stone, and man did this dude bring some things into perspective. He was asked about Cultural Appropriation, that is, whites doing “black music” and stuff. The question seemed a little dated to me anyway, but George responded with a great take:

I’d bite off the Beatles, or anybody else. It’s all one world, one planet and one groove. You’re supposed to learn from each other, blend from each other, and it moves around like that. You see that rocket ship leave yesterday? We can maybe leave this planet. We gonna be dealing with aliens. You think black and white gonna be a problem? Wait till you start running into mother***kers with three or four d**cks! Bug-eyed mother***kers! They could be ready to party, or they could be ready to eat us. We don’t know, but we’ve got to get over this shit of not getting along with each other.”

BOOM! I do not believe I’ve ever heard it stated better.

You know, George would make a great president. Too bad he’s in his 70’s and half crazy, nobody would ever vote for a guy like that. Wait . . .

!!!!!!!!!!

 

So former NBA player Kenyon Martin went to Twitter to make fun of Jeremy Lin’s dreadlocks, accusing him of cultural appropriation and “wanting to be black.” Lin’s response was kind, respectful, and intelligent. Check it out:

Sweet Mother of all that is holy, somebody make me this.

Just when I’d lost all hope, when hatred and heartlessness seemed to rule, a hero has emerged from the darkness. A hero that believes, like Hippocrates and myself, that “the soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different.” Seriously, dude ran into a raging wildfire to save a bunny. That’s cool.

Good boy. Never a second thought, just went to help because it was the right thing to do.

Like owning a flying car or everyone soaring around with jetpacks, floating cities and underwater cities have been talked about for years. Well, looks like the first floating city will arrive in 2020. Read on . . .

The concept of floating cities may sound like something from a science fiction novel, but it could become a reality by 2020. Seasteading Institute, a San Francisco-based nonprofit has been developing this idea since the foundation of the organization in 2008, and it has reached an agreement with the government of French Polynesia to begin testing in its waters.
“If you could have a floating city, it would essentially be a start-up country,” Joe Quirk, the president of the Seasteading Institute told the New York Times. “We can create a huge diversity of governments for a huge diversity of people.” The community in question should consist of about a dozen structures, including homes, hotels, offices, and restaurants. Engineers and architects have already visited an undisclosed location where the project should emerge. The main aim of the idea is to “liberate humanity from politicians” and “rewrite the rules that govern society”.

Liberate schmiberate. How hard would it be to conquer a floating city? Please. Just send some Navy Seals under the place and harpoon the hell out of the place. Seriously, I like the concept but I’d build it as a resort or something and charge rich people a gazillion bucks to visit. Anywho, take a look:

Good stuff.

Located in the Binhai Cultural District In Tianjin, the five-story library is called “The Eye of Binhai”. It covers 34,000 square meters and can hold up to 1.2 million books. Taking just three years to complete, the library features a reading area on the ground floor, lounge areas in the middle sections and offices, meeting spaces, and computer/audio rooms at the top. Check out the video below the photos for more awesomeness. On a related note, I have no idea how they reach the books on those upper shelves.

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Word for word.

Well, hell. Now I’m all emotional and whatnot.