Elves take many forms. For starters, there’s the diminutive, pointy-eared elf that often appears in fairy tales. In fantasy literature like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and many role-playing games, elves are human-sized, willowy, and wise. In Northern European folklore, they’re clever, supernatural tricksters.
Each December, however, the hardworking, friendly elves under the employ of Santa Claus reign supreme. When Yuletide rolls around, it’s only natural to have elves on the brain. But do you know how those mischievous sprites became Christmas helpers? Or why should you be cautious around a dancing elf? Get in the holiday spirit with these six interesting facts about elves.
The concept of elves got its start in Northern Europe, from early Norse mythology to the Germanic folklore of the Middle Ages. Elf myths varied by region, and were often told in conjunction with fairy folklore. While some elves were benevolent, more often than not they were volatile troublemakers.
Illnesses, both human and animal, were often pinned on elves, as were bad dreams — supposedly, elves caused them by sitting on the sleeper. (The German word for nightmare, alpdrücken, translates literally to “elf pressure.”) They were even rumored to steal babies. While helpful elves sometimes worked their way into the mythology, early elves were certainly a far cry from the cheery toy manufacturers that came to dominate modern wintertime folklore.
In Scandinavian mythology, elves are typically portrayed as powerful, supernatural beings, and they often used music and dancing as a way to enchant and ensnare humans — like in the story of The Elf-Woman and Sir Olaf. In the tale, a knight stumbles into the elf world the day before his wedding and encounters elf maidens dancing. He’s asked to join the dance but refuses. As a result, he dies, although the ending differs in the story’s many variations. Another ballad, called “Elvehoj,” has a happier ending: Elf maidens attempt to draw him into dances that would permanently bind him to the elf world, but they’re ultimately unsuccessful.
Still another legend tells of the Elf-king’s tune: When a fiddler plays the song, it compels everyone in earshot, including inanimate objects, to dance. The fiddler can’t stop playing once the song has begun, unless he or she can play backwards, or someone cuts the fiddle’s strings. These dance themes continue in later Scandinavian texts, such as Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 tale The Elf Mound, which describes elf maidens performing dances to impress party guests.
Christmas Elves First Emerged in the 19th Century
Credit: Buyenlarge/ Archive Photos via Getty Images
It wasn’t until the 1800s that elves began to be associated with Christmas. One of the earliest references was Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (more commonly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” from its first line), which described Santa himself as a “jolly old elf.” In 1856, Little Women author Louisa May Alcott wrote a short story called “Christmas Elves” — but that story was never published, so it didn’t popularize the concept.
Nonetheless, the concept of Santa’s elves had certainly entered the cultural lexicon by the 1870s, when other works started mentioning elves. A December 1873 issue of Godey’s Lady Book — a highly influential women’s magazine that also helped popularize the Christmas tree as a tradition in America — led with an image of Santa’s workshop, complete with his elf helpers.
J.R.R. Tolkien Preferred the Middle English Word “Elven” Instead of “Elfin”
When J.R.R. Tolkien wrote his famous Lord of the Rings series, “elven” was considered an obsolete Middle English word. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), it was originally a noun that meant “female elf,” or simply “elf.” When Tolkien wrote the series, “elfish” or “elfin,” which had its first print appearance in 1590, were the terms used to describe “having to do with elves.”
Tolkien, also well known for his expertise in language and folklore, deliberately used “elven” and “elvish” instead, which became somewhat of a headache when it came time to proofread The Fellowship of the Ring. “The impertinent compositors have taken it upon themselves to correct, as they suppose, my spelling and grammar,” Tolkien wrote to his son in August 1953, “altering throughout ‘dwarves’ to ‘dwarfs’; ‘elvish’ to ‘elfish’… and worst of all, ‘elven’ — to ‘elfin.’”
To this day, neither Merriam-Webster nor Dictionary.com recognizes “elven” as a word, although Merriam-Webster recognizes “elvish.” The OED says that “elvish” specifically refers to elves as they’re described in Tolkien’s books, though the word has also become popular in other elf-related fantasy circles.
The Elf on a Shelf Tradition Started With a Self-Published Book
The Elf on a Shelf is a Christmas season ritual in which a parent hides a “Scout Elf” doll each morning for kids to find. The idea is that the elf watches the family, reports back to Santa at night if the kids have been naughty or nice, and then sets up in a different spot in the home for the next day.
This now-ubiquitous Christmas tradition dates to 2005, when a mother and her twin daughters pitched the idea for a book based on their own family ritual. After they were rejected by publishers, the trio took out credit cards and dipped into retirement funds to self-publish the book The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition, which came with an elf for the reader’s own shelf. It was a runaway success, and over the next 15 years, more than 14.5 million Scout Elves were sold as the practice became a regular part of Christmas for families all over the world. The design of what’s now known as a “Scout Elf” is much older than the tradition itself. It bears a striking resemblance to the “knee-hugger” elves of the 1950s and 1960s; perhaps one of these was the family’s original elf.
One Elf in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Lacks a Notable Feature
There’s much that sets Hermy the Misfit Elf apart from the rest of his North Pole co-workers in the 1964 animated TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The most obvious and central to the plot is that he wants to be a dentist rather than manufacture toys. He also appears to be the only junior employee with a visible hairstyle — a stylish, swoopy blond mop.
But another feature sets Hermy apart that you may not have noticed: He does not have the pointy ears typically associated with elves. The other assembly workers, and even the gruff, goateed factory supervisor, all have pointy ears. Once you notice they are missing, it’s hard to unsee it, especially since his actual ears are quite small and rounded.
RALEIGH, NC — A local retailer is making waves after announcing its most dramatic Black Friday sale ever, in which every item in the store is marked down to whatever the price was before Biden became President.
“Yeah, we’re going to lose a bundle on this deal since everything was so much cheaper under Trump,” said Store Manager Franzlie McBorgendern to reporters as thousands gathered outside awaiting store opening. “But we have to get people in the doors so we can stay in business — at least until Amazon runs us out of business in a couple of months.”
The sale is expected to fuel America’s nostalgia for a time when gas was affordable, groceries didn’t cost $500 per week, and the country wasn’t fighting a proxy war with Russia. “Merry Christmas! We hope you enjoy this little look back in time to 3 years ago!” said MCBorgendern before quietly weeping into a display of 50%-off bathroom towels.
At publishing time, interest in the sale plummeted after the store revealed that mask mandates would also be the same as they were right before Biden was President.
“…And after a long time the boy came back again. “I am sorry, Boy,” said the tree, “but I have nothing left to give you- My apples are gone.” “My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy. “My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You cannot swing on them-“ “I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy. “My trunk is gone,” said the tree. “You cannot climb-“ “I am too tired to climb,” said the boy. “I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am an old stump. I am sorry…” “I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet please to sit and rest. I am very tired.” “Well,” said the tree, straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is a good for sitting and resting. Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.” And the boy did. And the tree was happy.”
In 2013 a special water transport traveled from Rotterdam to Amsterdam. A timelapse camera took 30.000 photos every 3 seconds, resulting in a unique and stunning view of the old Dutch waterways, in 4K [source, full video: https://t.co/4BAzOVEX8X] pic.twitter.com/YnRoO0yLHo
Steelers helmet (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account, you will not be able to see the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Cleveland Browns Thursday night.
Thanks to the NFL’s 11-year broadcasting deal signed in 2021, the Thursday Night Football franchise began airing on the online behemoth only last week, the first time a streaming platform has been given a full-time deal to air NFL games.
Previously, Amazon split the deal with a broadcast television network, most recently with Fox from 2018-2021 after CBS and NBC split the package for the previous two seasons.
As with the NFL’s contracts in the past with cable outlets like ESPN and their own NFL Network, the game is syndicated to an over-the-air station in the team’s local market. That means WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh and WEWS-TV in Cleveland will air the game to their home markets.
But that provision does not extend to the team’s secondary markets. The NFL designates the Johnstown/Altoona market along with the Wheeling, W.Va., Clarksburg, W.Va., and Youngstown, Ohio markets as the Steelers other secondary markets which get all games of the pertinent team that air on the network’s packages on CBS and Fox.
PETITION TARGETS: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wilstem Wildlife Park, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Elephants who formerly spent their lives exploited in circuses now are being forced to have hundreds of strangers touch them, spray them with water, pose for pictures with them, and senselessly paint their toenails — with each encounter raking in between $119 and $599 for their exhibitors at Wilstem Wildlife Park in Indiana during the summer months.
The website for Wilstem Inc, a for-profit business with properties in French Lick and Paoli, shows paying customers can participate in an elephant “spa” for $119, a 2-hour encounter where elephants have to endure untrained people spraying them with water and stand still while “young participants” paint their toe nails.
The business’s most expensive elephant package – billed as its “most exclusive,” “private” encounter – allows up to eight people to crowd around the captive elephants, touch them, and take photos with them.
These hands-on encounters with elephants – who are sensitive, highly intelligent animals – are continuing even though Wilstem Inc recently was fined $8,000 by federal inspectors for numerous violations that spanned species—including lack of facility supervision for children interacting directly with animals.
Wilstem Inc elephant interaction (Image via Yelp)
In an affidavit obtained by Lady Freethinker through a public records request, a federal inspector wrote that she had serious concerns about animal handling, other animal interactions involving sloth and kangaroo, and that Wilstem Inc was putting profit before the animals’ welfare.
“The facility needs to be held accountable and responsible for the deaths, mistreatment, and suffering several of the animals were put through before they died or were put to death,” the inspector wrote.
The elephants on display at Wilstem Inc during the summer months are on loan from another USDA-licensed facility in Florida with its own controversial history and documented welfare violations — including not providing adequate veterinary care to an elephant with a lump on her face and for keeping the elephants chained — as well as other exploitative stunts, such as forcing elephants to play harmonicas for visitors’ “entertainment.”
(Information accessed via Wilstem’s website)
Transporting the elephants from one exploitative venue to the other every year also is dangerous for the elephants and people. The facilities made headlines a few years ago when the transport trailer caught fire and the elephants escaped onto the nearby interstate – where fire fighters, sheriff’s deputies, and emergency services had to assist.
Elephants and other wild animals are not here for our “entertainment.” They deserve to live their lives peacefully in their natural environments, with freedom to roam, play, and interact with others of their own kind — as they need to do in order to thrive.
Sign our petition urging the USDA and Indiana Department of Natural Resources to immediately inspect conditions at Wilstem Inc and to seize any suffering animals and safely relocate them to a reputable sanctuary. We’re also asking Wilstem Inc to stop offering paid interactions involving physical contact with their elephants and other wild animals.
Then, read LFT’s full story about Wilstem Inc here.
Do you do the ‘right thing’ when nobody is watching? We have rules and regulations to deter people from performing certain actions that are deemed negative by society. What happens if there are no specific laws that prohibit a certain negative action? This brings us to the Shopping Cart Theory that I came across online.
The Shopping Cart Theory first appeared on 4chan in 2020.
Summary Of Shopping Cart Theory
It is a test to see if a person can do the right thing when not forced to
Returning a shopping cart is objectively the right thing to do
Unless there is an emergency, there is no reason why one should not return the shopping carts
There is no punishment if you decide not to return the shopping cart to the appropriate area
You gain nothing by returning the shopping cart
Someone who doesn’t return their trolley is no better than an animal
Return = good person
Don’t return = bad person
In Singapore, we do have a direct benefit from returning the shopping carts as there is a deposit system. The reason why we have the deposit system is to encourage the return of shopping carts.
Besides shopping carts, another example that can apply to the Shopping Cart Theory would be the hawker food trays before 1 September 2021. We cannot be trusted to do the right thing so from 1 September 2021 onwards, it would be an offence to leave behind food trays or litter after eating.
Why Do People Return Shopping Carts?
It is just the right thing to do. Mostly these people do not inconvenience other people like the staff and other shoppers. The staff would have to go around collecting the abandoned carts while other shoppers might have difficulty finding a shopping cart if a lot of these carts are not at the original place. The shopping carts might also be blocking the parking space
If there is a deposit system, the user would want to get back their dollar after using the shopping cart.
Of course, some people return the carts to prevent being judged or cancelled if there are other people around.
Why Do People Not Return Shopping Carts?
These people value their own time and effort over others. Some reasons they gave are
Return receptacle is too far away
Someone else’s job
Doing a favour for the next user as the cart can be easily accessed
While doing my research, I see some people giving lousy excuses of giving the staff a job or giving them a “break” when they get to go out and collect the abandoned shopping carts. These excuses help them rationalize leaving the shopping carts wherever, turning a negative deed into a positive deed in their mind. Not returning your shopping carts does not only inconvenience other people but also wastes resources.
There is also the emergency excuse mentioned in the Shopping Cart Theory. Let’s be honest with ourselves, how many emergencies can happen to an individual every time they need to return their shopping carts?
5 Types Of Shopping Cart Users
From a Scientific American article, shopping cart users can be mainly classified into 5 groups.
Returners who always return the shopping carts to the receptacle
Never Returners who never return their shopping carts
Convenience Returners who only return their shopping carts if it is convenient
Pressure Returners who will return the shopping carts if there are other people around
Child-Driven Returners who treat it as a game as it is fun for their child
From these 5 categories, we can see that it is not so straightforward to determine whether you are a good or bad person based on your shopping cart actions.
Are You A Good Or A Bad Person?
I would say that using savagery or animal to describe people who do not return their trolleys would be a bit exaggerated. One bad action shouldn’t determine whether you are a good or bad person. It also doesn’t take into account that you might learn your lesson and start doing the right thing. Cancel culture likes to place judgement on someone with minimal chance of redemption and it can be difficult to come back from there.
But if you don’t return your shopping cart consistently, even after you know that you are directly affecting other people, I would say that you are a bad person who doesn’t care about other people. There are no surveys done specifically but I predict that there is an overlap with people who consistently litter and people who do not return their shopping carts.
Even if you return the trolley, it doesn’t mean that you are a good person. In an era where you can get cancelled just like that, it keeps people in check where being cancelled can directly severely affect their relationships or job security. Even without a cancel culture, the reason some people return shopping carts is the fear of being judged if they get caught, not because it is the right thing to do.
The Shopping Cart Theory is just a thought-provoking theory that shed some light on the actions of people who do not return their shopping carts. It cannot be used as a definitive test to see whether someone is a good or bad person.
Do We Really Need Laws For Everything?
Singapore is famous for being a ‘fine’ city. After implementing a law from clearing trays, will shopping cart abandonment grow into such a big problem that a law will be enacted specifically for this problem? It is quite sad that we need laws to help guide humanity’s actions as we cannot be trusted to do the right thing.
I previously wrote an article on trolley abandonment and how it wastes resources. It costs FairPrice S$150,000 a year to collect and replace abandoned trolleys.
Besides laws and fines, we will need to educate the public on doing the right thing by returning their shopping carts. It will be hard to change the mindset of some adults so we should focus on children so they grow up with a civic mindset and they can also set an example for their future children.
The Shopping Cart Theory attempts to determine if you are a good or bad person depending on what you do with your shopping cart at the end of your shopping session. It is not so straightforward as there can be some nuances. Besides implementing laws, we should start educating since young on responsibility and civic-mindedness. We shouldn’t fully depend on laws to hope people do the right thing.
Despite what every HGTV renovation show may tell you, designing a home is not as easy as it looks. Sure, you may be handy with a hammer, but one missed cut or improper measurement is all it takes to turn your dream home into a funhouse. Even when these homeowners tried to keep it simple, their ridiculous home design fails prove that sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals.
Either this toilet is trying to escape, or its owner just really needed a better view of whatever was to his left. Let’s just hope no one walks in on him doing his business — they’d be both disgusted and terribly confused.
It looks like the person who lives in this house decided to put their love of landscaping over their need for a garage. Leaving a little strip of sidewalk was also a unique choice. Hopefully, this homeowner remembered to pull their car out before the reno.
Whoever was working on this renovation decided they’d had enough of this project when it came time to put on the finishing touches. Good luck trying to center your dining table now!
A tape measure is your friend during a home makeover. Whoever was responsible for building this island clearly didn’t follow the measure twice, cut once rule. Now, half of the island drawers are unusable!
The designer behind this atrocity has some explaining to do. This all-floral wall-to-floor look definitely isn’t for everyone — in fact, we’re not sure it would be for anyone. Also, it’s a carpeted bathroom? Yuck.
Let’s take bath time and make it spicy. There are two terrifying scenarios that could happen with this setup: the first is falling down the stairs after a bath, and the second is being surprised by someone who snuck into your basement. Both are great reasons to never do this.
The plumber that put this ridiculous setup in must have been in the middle of a very, very long day. Unless this homeowner is looking to turn their kitchen into a swimming pool, it’s probably best to call another sink installer for a follow-up.
This carpet illusion would be difficult to navigate sober — imagine trying to go down these steps after a few drinks! Even if it didn’t give you a headache, this carpet is ugly and probably shouldn’t have been used.
Backing out of this garage will definitely help you wake up for your commute. Then again, this drop is probably better suited for a monster truck — the suspension on a mini-van might not recover!
Everyone loves using a bathroom that makes them feel simultaneously claustrophobic and depressed. This is one sad toilet. Put a light in there at least! Anything to brighten up this cramped, dirty space.
Not only does this design fail make these drawers look like they’re peeking out from behind the door, but it pretty much guarantees that this cabinet will be impossible to use. Why are there so many people who can’t measure?
Hey, do you know where would be a great place to install a toilet?
Oh, how about the kitchen? You know, the same room where you prepare and eat the very food that you put in your mouth!
If you think about it, this is one of the most effective fences in the world. The design invites visitors to use their imagination to fill in the rest of the fence, distracting them and making them forget why they wanted to walk onto your property in the first place.
That rickety ladder clearly couldn’t support an adult, and the little balcony is barely attached to the siding. To make matters worse, this contraption also gives any potential thieves much easier access to your second floor!
This contractor was living on the edge during this basement reno — literally. Why didn’t they bother to move the beam slightly to the left? It seems like such an easy fix. Instead, they gifted the homeowner this monstrosity.
If you enjoy an audience while relieving yourself, do we have the bathroom for you. The door installers went just a little high when it came to these stalls. Sure, this might be a great way to get to know your bathroom buddies, though we don’t think many people will want to try it.
Let’s make getting out of the garage into a dangerous game. Not only do the homeowners have to worry about their cars accidentally rolling out of the garage, but just imagine trying to back out safely when it’s icy out!
What a lovely door! It would be a shame if someone were to… put a pipe in front of it. Now, the landlord will have to worry about someone opening the door too quickly and putting a hole in the pipe!
There’s a beautifully constructed rain cover outside of this building, though, unfortunately, the build team overlooked one tiny detail: the location of the doorway. Now, anyone who walks outside in a storm will have to run for cover to stay dry.
Build a face into the side of your house and you’ll never feel alone. This cutesy design might suit a preschool but is definitely out of place on this regular home. Also, just imagine if it randomly changed its expression one day. Creepy.
There may not seem like there’s much wrong with this sink on a purely functional level, but boy oh boy, does that thing look ugly. Maybe they should use something better than generic arts and crafts glue next time…
How does a project like this even get to this point? Surely, even a novice would realize, “This has to close somehow.” Evidently, even just installing a door handle isn’t always a simple task.
You probably could park your car in this driveway, so long as you have an almost superhuman ability to line up your tires. Still, one has to wonder who ever thought this design was a good idea?
Why is the refrigerator simply sitting on its own in the middle of that kitchen? In the history of refrigerators, has anybody ever designed their kitchen on its own little island like this?
Whoever built this cabinet made a grave mistake: they installed it just over the light switch! They even had to cut part of the switch off to accommodate it. Clearly, planning isn’t overrated.
Who needs great big windows, right? The real estate listing for this property must have been absolutely hilarious: “Lots of exposed brick. Tons of it, really. Seriously. Some natural light.”
When you’re preparing your home office, make sure that you have everything that you’ll need to have a productive day. That means a computer, a comfortable chair, and… a toilet? Sure, why not.
This faucet might be comically too short, but that’s not really important. What’s important is that it gets the job done. Plus, who could have been counted on to do something as insane as measuring the distance from the wall to the tub?
What purpose do these big, obstructive columns serve exactly? Are they supposed to be holding the house together? If that’s the case, why was this place built on such a flimsy foundation in the first place?
Warning! Do not, under any circumstances, try to get some air outside on this poorly-designed balcony, because you’re definitely going to regret it… if you survive the fall, that is!
You know, dishwashers are supposed to make our lives easier, but at this point, you’d probably be better off just doing it by hand. Unless you’re disassembling your radiator with every load…
Okay, so that strange garage from earlier may have looked like a challenge, but this one is literally impossible to use. That is, unless you happen to have one of those newfangled flying cars.
You’re going to be severely out of luck if you ever need to repair this toilet. Whether this problem was the fault of the person who installed it or the individual who built that counter, someone screwed up.
What on Earth is even happening here? This bathroom is designed in such an insane fashion that one could only wonder if it was done intentionally. Assuming that’s the case, can someone please stop this monster?
Whoever designed the railing for this seemingly normal staircase is either incredibly lazy or is trying too hard to apply surrealist sensibilities to home design. They would make the Dadaists proud.
What kind of unfeeling, uncaring monster would keep the toilet paper so far from the toilet itself? That’s way too stressful to handle. Anyone with short arms would be in serious doo-doo.
Hey, who needs to clean their clothes when they could cook a delicious breakfast on that stove instead? That may seem like a ridiculous choice, but, well… this is a ridiculous assortment of appliances
Have you ever been cooking something and suddenly realized that you need to go to the bathroom immediately? Evidently, that’s a common issue, judging by how many commodes end up in the kitchen these days…
Why is this door knob in the center of the door itself? How would that even work? It’s sort of like the door to a hobbit hole, except it’s not in the Shire and is about 10,000 percent less magical.
Can you imagine paying an expert to set up your sink and faucet, only to realize that this is what they’re willing to call a job well done? This makes no sense whatsoever, no matter how you look at it.
Here’s an example of an instance in which nobody thought about the important relationship between one piece of furniture with another. Come on, get your act together, contractors!
Hey, do you know what every home needs for their garage? Stairs! No, not the stairs from the inside of the house to the garage itself, but for some sort of sci-fi vehicle with legs.
43. Settling For Home-Cooked
When it’s this difficult to get into the drawer to access the local takeout menus, that may be your home designer’s not-too-subtle suggestion that maybe you should save money and cook tonight instead!
Everybody loves those designer handbags, right? So what could be the problem with painting an entire house to look like one? Other than the fact that it looks hilariously unsightly, of course.
You know, the problem with the vast majority of toilets out there is that you can never get a good look at yourself as you’re doing your business. Finally, this glamorous restroom has a solution!
Clearly, the best place to keep an outlet is right where rainwater is inevitably going to come gushing down right on top of it. That’s certainly not a surefire way to set the entire house on fire, no sir.
“Oh hey, welcome to our humble abode. No, you can’t come in, sorry. What do you think that railing is for if not to keep out intruders? Okay, fine, I suppose you could come in through the front door instead.”
The good news with a garage like this is that you know that nobody’s going to be able to steal your car from it. The bad news is that you’ll have no way of parking your car in there in the first place!
For those tired of having to manually open the stall door so that others can watch you use the bathroom, this revolutionary new design is here to solve all your toilet-watching needs while simultaneously bothering urinal users.
After any big night out on the town, it is imperative to grab some grub on the way home. But which are the most frequented establishments to go to late at night in order to quench this craving?
This all depends on where we find ourselves. As great as some late-night hashbrowns and fries could be, few things are better than a nice greasy spoon breakfast, like the one we would find down in the South.
2. Shakin’ All Over
From icy Alaska down to sunny California, one reason for not living on the West Coast of the States could be the very healthy fear of being caught in an earthquake. In reality, no matter where in America you live you run the risk of getting caught in an earthquake.
That being said, there is a dramatic difference between a massive 9.2 magnitude quake and a smaller 4.7 one. Frequency also plays a role, so keep that in mind when picking where to live!
3. With or Without Pulp?
A nice glass of freshly-squeezed OJ is always nice with breakfast. It might be surprising to learn which is the only state increasing its annual orange production.
Even the orange production is bigger in Texas. Out of the three main states that produce oranges each year only Texas has shown an increase in production.
4. Life’s Tough
Depression is a real problem amongst people of all ages and from all walks of life. Let’s have a look at which parts of America are affected the most.
It may be the lack of a winning sports team or maybe it’s the weather, but for some reason, the North-West and the Mid-West seem to have the largest issues with depression.
5. Barking Up The Wrong Tree
It’s not just the diversity of its people that makes America so unique. Whether it’s for building a tree fort or for getting maple syrup there is a tree for everyone.
With over a hundred different species of trees in some parts, the eastern coast of the States sports the most diverse tree population. However, with more than one thousand species of trees scattered across the country there is something for tree enthusiasts everywhere.
6. If A Tree Falls And No One Is Around To Hear It…
To answer the age-old question…yes it still makes a noise. All because no one is around to hear the tree fall that doesn’t mean no one is listening. If Orwell taught us anything, someone is always listening.
Natural loudness is measured in decibels by the noises of the wild. This could be the sound of the wind, the water, the birds, and yes, even the sound of a tree falling in the forest with no one around.
7. Big City Folk
We have just seen that mother nature on the east coast has caused more natural noise pollution than elsewhere in the country. It is now time to see where the majority of all noise pollution in America comes from (not just the natural kind).
It does not come as any surprise that the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas produce a lot of noise, however, they don’t call New York ‘The City That Never Sleeps’ for nothing.
8. Higher Education
Graduating from college is meant to be a celebratory occasion for a new graduate. After all, even though ‘the future is now’ it often starts with crippling debt.
Upon graduating, most graduates owe more in college debts than the average American earns in one year.
9. Moving To The Midwest Then Huh?
It is crazy to think that the average annual salary needed to buy a house in New York City is almost double that of being a homeowner in sunny Tampa Bay. But that’s nothing compared to the prices out west.
For all those who are eventually looking at retiring out west think again. An average annual salary of over $100K is needed in almost every major western city. And don’t even think about the move to San Jose unless the family is bringing in at least a quarter of million dollars annually.
10. Two Creams And One Sugar Please
Over the past few decades, coffee culture is something that has taken the world by storm. For any Canucks heading down the east coast on a road trip, feel free to dunk those donuts but don’t expect to find too many Tim Horton’s around.
Starbucks has not only put itself at almost every major street corner and petrol station across the United States, it has also created its own coffee language. According to the map the majority of Americans do prefer their tall, non-fat, extra hot, no foam, one pump vanilla lattes.
11. Left Out In The Cold
It is a privilege to be able to go home at the end of a long hard day but not everyone is so lucky. This is one of those maps that helps to remind us just how fortunate we all are.
Over 150,000 homeless people live in California and almost 100,000 in New York alone. That is almost a quarter of a million homeless individuals in just two states.
Presidents are constantly attempting to leave their marks and cement their legacies. Some of them are just better at the ‘Art of the Deal’ than others.
Andrew Johnson purchased Alaska for only 7.2 million dollars in the year the first Canada Day was celebrated in 1867, and the Louisiana Purchase cost Thomas Jefferson a whopping 15 million dollars in 1803.
13. That Sure Is Quite The Load
The great American railroad system has been moving supplies across the country for almost two hundred years, but these days it does not deliver the goods quite like it used to.
Out east, the waterways and highways take the majority of the loads down the coast. Out west one can always see a large number of cargo trucks hauling supplies along the national highway. It simply reaches more places these days than the railway does.
14. Mind The Bears
The American landscape is vast and beautiful. No matter where one goes in the country there are spectacular sites to be seen.
Planning an Appalachian trail walk or cross country skiing through the Rockies? Fear not, this map has it all. Just steer clear of Yetis and keep away from those picnic baskets.
15. ‘Isn’t The Speed Limit 55?’
Driving along an empty highway road with music blaring and the wind blowing through our hair can be quite a freeing experience, as long as it is done within the confines of the laws of course.
Most states do have a similar maximum speed limit but it is always better to check first before going on a road trip. Being pulled over by a state trooper is a great way to ruin a vacation.
16. Route 66 Anyone?
Now that we know where the national parks are and how fast we can go, let us have a look how to get to them.
Connecting Americans with each other far and wide, the National Highway Services helps to unite all parts of America, with over 164,000 miles of roads that stretch all across the country.
17. Soy Latte Please
Over the past few decades, we have seen an increase in alternative eating habits and soybeans have been the base of a lot of these products.
Thanks to the American prairies’ production of soybeans for her soy latte, ‘Starbucks Karen’ will have one less thing to complain about.
18. Healthy Eating
Continuing along the lines of healthy eating, a lot of people seem to have grown tired of eating foods covered in pesticides and other chemicals for some reason.
Organic foods could cost an arm and a leg but it sure is nice to know that there’s nothing toxic being sprayed onto our food.
19. Everyone’s Guilty Of Something
We all have that one vice that is just so hard to ignore sometimes. Let’s take a look at which states are the most angelic as well as the most sinful.
If the movie ‘Seven’ taught us anything, it’s that giving in to temptation could get us into a lot of trouble. The bottom corners of the country sure do look like a lot of fun though.
20. Did You Want Fries With That?
We have already seen that McDonald’s is the most popular place for people to go for some late-night drunk food, but we all have our own favorite burger place to go to if given the opportunity.
Here we see that McDonald’s may be everywhere but it is not the only option. Burger King and the Queen of Dairy remain towards the top of the charts and Texans have made Sonic burger their choice.
21. And He’s In For The Touchdown
It is absolutely no surprise that the highest-paid public employees in America are connected to sports. The success of a college or high school sports team is paramount to a town’s happiness and it shows in how much they are willing to pay their coaches.
A high school football coach makes an average of around $45K a year which is not too bad at all, but it’s no wonder the end game is to coach college. The average salary for a college football coach is 2.7 million dollars a year. Talk about scoring.
22. A Different View Point
The map that is used in Alaskan schools has Alaska in the center and North America to the East. This is just a fun one for a bit of a different perspective.
With how secluded it is from the rest of the country it’s no wonder Alaska sees the rest of America as ‘that place down there’.
23. Poached Or Fried?
As long as people are eating breakfast there will be a demand for eggs. More than fifty billion eggs are laid in America each year and Iowa unexpectedly leads the way in production.
Fun uneggspected fact: brown eggs come from hens with red feathers and red ear lobes while white eggs come from hens with white feathers and white ear lobes.
24. Tis The Season
It is Christmas tradition for many families to pack themselves into the family car and head out looking for the perfect tree. Even the desert states have at least a couple of Christmas tree farms
Considering the enormous fines one would get for cutting a tree down off the side of the highway for Christmas, it’s probably for the best to know where the local farm is for the holidays.
25. ‘I’ll Get A Litre O’ Cola’
Some people call them chips and others call them crisps. Some call them cookies while others call them biscuits. But what happens when the chips and biscuits make us thirsty. What do we ask for?
Depending on where we find ourselves on this cross country road trip of ours, the answer may vary. Just don’t walk into a place on either coast and ask for some pop or the locals will be able to spot the tourists.
26. Need A Roommate?
New York and California maybe two of the more desirable places to live in America but that may change once learning the cost of any apartment bigger than a shoebox.
Better start looking for a roommate. With an hourly wage of under $25 an hour don’t even bother looking for a place with more than one room.
27. A Job’s Job
When immigrating to a new country an individual knows that they may need to work a job that they are not too fond of. It is a sacrifice that is made with the ‘American Dream’ in mind.
It is no big surprise to see here that most immigrants start off in a more subservient occupation, as these are the less desired jobs. A job is a job though.
28. Locked And Loaded
It is amazing to see the percentage of Americans who have decided to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
For all those who are against guns, maybe just steer clear of the entire center of the country.
29. ‘Wanna Play A Game?’
Here’s a fun one for the horror buffs out there. From the Texas Chainsaw Masacre’ to ’30 Days of Night’, horror films have taken place in every state right across the country.
It’s time to use that map of the interstate highways to get us the heck away from the midwest. And no summer camps either!
30. Cold War Era
Because of the fears that they would defect, it was very difficult in the times of the Soviet Union for Russians to gain permission to leave their own country. Even when they were able to leave there were limits on where they would be allowed to go once in the other countries.
From the late 50s until the end of the cold war the places in red on this map were actually the places where Soviets were not allowed to go. Kind of takes the fun out of an American vacation doesn’t it.
31. Don’t Forget The Stuffing
About a month before Christmas every year Americans all over the country tell their loved ones about all the things they are thankful for. Without these next farms a lot of people would be a lot less thankful every November.
Turkey farmers right across the middle eastern part of the United States work hard every year to ensure that every little pilgrim out there has the thanksgiving they deserve.
32. Locked Up
Almost every state in the country has at least one federal prison. Whatever happened to those maximum security prisons in the middle of the mountains that we see in the movies?
After seeing how many federal prisons there are in America just imagine if the funding for even a third of those prisons would go into rehabilitation instead of imprisonment.
Sometimes where we come from defines who we are, alternatively, it sometimes defines who we don’t want to be. One either has pride for their own state or they do not.
That pride runs in their veins otherwise they usually have an escape plan. Maybe it’s because of all the noise pollution out East that’s causing the lack of state pride and desire to pack up.
As we know, hundreds of years ago the United States of America was built by the hard work of immigrants from all over the world who were trying to find a better life for themselves and their families.
In the hundred years between 1820 and 1930 more than 6 million germans and 4.5 million Irish made the long journey by boat from Europe to the New World. That makes up almost 10% of the entire population of America in 1930.
35. Where’s That Name From?
Now that we know where the majority of Americans’ ancestry lies let’s have a look at where the individual states’ names originated.
It is no big shock to see that the majority of the States’ names are derived from Native words. What is a little amazing to learn however, is that the number of states with names of English origin is less than a dozen.
36. 3D Map of Population Density
This map is another of those which gives a bit of a different perspective on the country.
Much like the numerous tall buildings that reside there, New York’s population density also towers over that of the other states.
37. Time To Head To The Coast
We are very lucky to be living in such a scientific age. As science and medicine progress, life expectancy has been on the rise.
With all the nice weather and oranges around for vitamins, it is no wonder why California and Florida are sporting two of the higher life expectancies in America.
38. Land Distribution
We’ve now seen where in the States the soybeans are grown and even where the majority of eggs and turkeys come from, but ever wonder how much of America is protected federal wilderness or used to make maple syrup? Well, it’s definitely not as much there should be.
Believe it or not, there is more land dedicated to cow farming and their pastures than any other industry in the United States.
39. Final Resting Places
Some presidents have been put to rest in the Arlington National Cemetary while others have been laid to rest in their own hometowns. Let’s take a brief look at the distribution of the burial plots for the Commander in Chiefs who are no longer with us.
Scattered across eighteen different states in addition to the District of Columbia, the deceased former presidents of the United States may be gone but they are surely not forgotten.
40. Family Matters
We have now seen where all the highways and national parks are across the country and we know how fast we are allowed to drive in each state. We even know where most people go for food after a big night out. Now let’s have a look at whose family road trip will have the most cramped car.
As we can see by this map even the family sizes are bigger in Texas. Families right across the southern part of America will have to jam pack themselves into the family car with not much leg room to spare.
What’s the only thing cooler than a castle? An ice castle. Figuratively and literally, these ice castles and other impressive winter displays are among the best of the bunch. Read on for some of the most breathtaking ice castles and sculptures in the country. FYI: Unless specified or noted as a free attraction, check the website listed for entrance fees, which vary depending on age and day.
Ice Castles New Hampshire, North Woodstock, New Hampshire
Ice Castles New Hampshire, North Woodstock, New Hampshire (White Mountains New Hampshire)
In the majestic White Mountains, journeyers will be treated to a fairy-tale display of ice castles from mid-January until mid-February depending on the weather conditions. All of the castles are hand-constructed and hand-placed by ice artists using hundreds of thousands of icicles, and you’ll also see tunnels, ice caves and ice slides. Illuminated by LED lights, visitors can also opt for a horse-drawn sleigh ride or the “Enchanted Forest Walk.”
Ice Castles in Lake George, New York (Courtesy to A.J. Mellor for Ice Castles)
Prepare to be amazed in the Empire State. In Lake George, you’ll be treated to ice displays with LED lights and colors at the Festival Commons at Charles Wood Park. This new winter event is expected to be open from January to early March, weather permitting. Each hand-built castle is said to take thousands of hours to create, and each castle is approximately a whopping one acre in size.
Ice Castles in Midway, Utah (Courtesy of Valor McNeely)
It’s to Utah we go for yet another Ice Castles experience. This one, situated in the scenic foothills of the Wasatch Mountains at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center — a one-time Winter Olympics venue — is Ice Castles’ original outpost. Guests will be amazed by ice-carved slides, fountains, caverns and narrow slot canyons, crafted completely in ice and inspired by the natural slot canyons for which the Southwest is known. For a special outing, hop aboard a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Wasatch Valley for ice-ing on the cake. Ice Castles in Midway, Utah, typically opens in late December or early January and remains open through late February.
International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado
International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado (The Breckenridge Tourism Office)
Not familiar with Breckenridge’s International Snow Sculpture Championships? Once you start scoping out videos from the mesmerizing event, good luck leaving the YouTube vortex. The celebrated snow-sculpting competition brings together 12 teams from around the globe to hand-carve 20-ton blocks of snow into larger-than-life art. Making these pieces even more impressive is the fact that competitors can only use hand tools. The carving week takes place Jan. 24-28, 2022, and viewing week for this unique outdoor art gallery is Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2022.
Ice Castles in New Brighton, Minnesota (A.J. Mellor)
Head to Long Lake Regional Park in the Twin Cities suburb of New Brighton, and you’ll be greeted with quite the frozen sight to behold. As you marvel at the castle, take note of the various caverns, tunnels, crawl spaces, slides and fountains, all handcrafted from individually placed icicles. To up the ante, there’s also a sculpture garden with fairy-tale-themed ice sculptures linked by a light grove along a wooded trail to the castle. Ice Castles in Minnesota historically opens in early January and stays in place through early March, weather permitting.
Michigan Technological University’s 100th Winter Carnival in Houghton, Michigan
Michigan Technological University’s 100th Winter Carnival in Houghton, Michigan (2nd Sandbar Productions and Keweenaw Convention & Visitors Bureau)
From Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, 2022, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will host this free-to-visit carnival that’s sure to dazzle folks of all ages. Every year, the carnival has a different theme, and students put on quite the spectacle through highly detailed snow and ice sculptures. Some of the largest sculptures take a month to create, and smaller statues are built overnight. There are also broomball games, comedy skits and the carnival’s queen coronation to enjoy.
Ice Castles in Lake George, New York (A.J. Mellor for Ice Castles)
A crazy-cool citadel awaits at Geneva National Resort and Club in this so-called “Newport of the west,” where you can ooh and ahh at caverns, arches, ice slides, an ice maze, crawl tunnels, the arctic alcove (a popular spot for proposals) and more. To boost your holiday activities quota, you can take a horse-drawn sleigh ridge along the shoreline of Lake Como. Due to the shorter winter season in Lake Geneva, Ice Castles in Wisconsin typically doesn’t open until late January and only remains open through late February, weather permitting.
Winter Carnival Ice Palace in Saranac Lake, New York
Winter Carnival Ice Palace in Saranac Lake, New York (The Adirondack Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism)
This free attraction alone is well worth a visit to the charming mountain town of Saranac Lake. At the winter carnival, the ice palace is the pièce de résistance, erected on the shore of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay and built similarly as it was in 1897, the first year the palace revealed its shimmering, glimmering self. Using ice harvested from Lake Flower with 1,500 blocks stacked atop each other, this ice display is built by volunteers. Visible for the duration of the carnival Feb. 4 to 13, 2022, heavy equipment is now used to help make the labor easier, but the communal spirit of neighbors coming together to make something special is ever present.
Samoset Glacier Ice Bar & Lounge in Rockport, Maine
Samoset Glacier Ice Bar & Lounge in Rockport, Maine (Samoset Resort)
Yes, grown-ups can enjoy a good old-fashioned ice castle excursion, but for some adults-only fun, it’s tough to outshine this ice bar and lounge put together by ice sculptors and designers who devote weeks to chiseling down 300-pound blocks of ice to fashion bars, seats, tables, ice luges, couches and sculptures. Fire lamps and faux-fur cushions round out the mix as you sip on hits like a “snowball martini or “Old Man Winter” and warm up with New England clam chowder and chili. There’s live music at night and the bar will be open Jan. 14-15 and Jan. 21-22, 2022, with free access for hotel guests and $25 for outside visitors.
Ice Maze at CityCenterDC in Washington, D.C. (Albert Ting / CityCenterDC)
Our nation’s capital recently welcomed the return of the Ice Maze at The Park at CityCenterDC, a mixed-use development and public park. The free, interactive experience surpassed its previous ice records, with a 130,000-pound clear ice maze accompanied by multicolored lights. This year, the maze was created by 10 international award-winning sculptors and ran in mid-December for three days. Ice activations have been a tradition at CityCenterDC for the past five years, and an announcement will come in 2022 as to what surprise guests can expect in the new year.
What an incredible day for @SanDiegoZoo Wildlife Alliance and conservation at the 133rd Rose Parade! Thanks to all who made today possible and creating such an incredible float to represent our work. pic.twitter.com/Z6MGFsL7Yj
There was a widespread outpouring of sadness and positive words expressed on social media on Friday following the death of Betty White, a beloved television star whose career lasted more than eight decades.
“White’s death was confirmed Friday by Jeff Witjas, her longtime agent and friend,” the Associated Press reported. “She would have turned 100 on Jan. 17.”
“I truly never thought she was going to pass away,” Witjas said. “She meant the world to me as a friend. She was the most positive person I’ve ever known.”
Notable responses to White’s death included:
Joe Biden, president: “Betty White brought a smile to the lips of generations of Americans. She’s a cultural icon who will be sorely missed. Jill and I are thinking of her family and all those who loved her this New Year’s Eve.”
Ryan Reynolds, actor: “The world looks different now. She was great at defying expectation. She managed to grow very old and somehow, not old enough. We’ll miss you, Betty. Now you know the secret.”
The U.S. Army: “We are saddened by the passing of Betty White. Not only was she an amazing actress, she also served during WWII as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services. A true legend on and off the screen.”
Nancy Pelosi, House speaker: “Today, we lost a beloved TV icon. Betty White was a pioneering actress, who blessed generations of Americans with her talent and humor for 8 decades. May it be a comfort to her loved ones and many admirers that so many mourn with them during this sad time.”
Megyn Kelly, political commentator: “I am feeling so grateful right now for the many years of enjoyment #BettyWhite brought me and my family (esp when my mom was newly widowed & we lived on Golden Girls). Rest In Peace you wonderful, beautiful, talented woman. And thank you.”
Kayleigh McEnany, former WH press secretary: “Betty White was an American icon with an infectious spirit and a zest for life. Betty was such a joy to watch as “Rose” from Golden Girls. She lit up the screen and quickly became America’s sweetheart. We will miss you, Betty!”
Comedy Central: “Betty White showed that funny was ageless.”
Debra Messing, actress: “Betty White. Oh noooooooo. I grew up watching and being delighted by her. She was playful and daring and smart. We all knew this day would come but it doesn’t take away the feeling of loss. A national treasure, indeed. Fly with the Angels.”
Ryan Seacrest, entertainer: “All of us in Times Square and around the world are grieving the loss of Betty White. She was a TV pioneer who paved the way for so many people. Beyond that, she showed us what you can accomplish in a lifetime through kindness and humor. Rest in peace to a true American icon.”
Kevin Sorbo, actor: “I was lucky enough to meet Betty White many years ago. Very gracious and amazing lady. Rest In Peace.”
Ellen DeGeneres, comedian: “What an exceptional life. I’m grateful for every second I got to spend with Betty White. Sending love to her family, friends and all of us.”
Kirstie Alley, actress: “Wow… what a legacy what a gal what an icon.. Betty White is simply the best. What an inspiration to all humans and a god send to all animal.”
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