I love to fly and it shows

This morning, as I flew from the world's busiest airport to (IMHO) the world's most inefficient airport, I got to wondering why my chosen airline was named after a geographical feature that has nothing to do with (A) air, (B) planes, (C) Delta's hometown of Atlanta, which is bereft of deltas. It turns out that Delta wasn't always an Atlanta institution. It got its start in 1924 on the banks of the Mississippi as the world's first commercial crop-dusting operation. If you ask me, that puts the lie to United Airlines' claim of being the oldest U.S. commercial airline. That claim, according to Wikipedia, goes all the way back to something called Varney Airlines, which took over for the Pony Express starting in 1926:

Varney's chief pilot, Leon D. "Lee" Cuddeback, flew the first Contract Air Mail flight in a Swallow biplane from Varney's headquarters in Boise, Idaho to the railroad mail hub of Pasco, Washington on April 6, 1926 and returned the following day with 200 pounds of mail. April 6th is reckoned in the United Airlines company history as both its own birthday and date on which "true" airline transport—operating on fixed routes and fixed schedules—began.

Bah. Maybe it's just ATLien hometown pride (or the enormous amount of grief that United flights through O'Hare have caused me), but I'm giving this one to the river boys.

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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