Say cheese!

Last week I went to a backyard wedding where the main entertainment was not dancing or drinking but cheese racing. It may not be an event in the World Games yet, but this "sport" has at least four followers aside from the bridal revelers, according to (what else?)

It was 1997 before the next great leap forward was made. Four friends had gathered in a quiet campsite near Osmington in Dorset. After an evening barbecue, their finely-honed analytical minds fortified by a combination of partially-cooked sausages, Stella Artois lager and Cockburn's Special Reserve Port (and several cigarettes of a nature which cannot be described on a family website such as this) an idea was hatched, as momentous in its own way as the ideas of Newton and Einstein.... What would happen if a [still wrapped] Kraft cheese slice was thrown onto a (still red-hot and glowing) barbecue?

What happens, apparently, is that the cheese boils, gases inside the package heat up and expand, and the wrapper somehow doesn't melt. Cheese racing (not to be confused with cheese rolling) simply takes this one step further; the winner is the person whose cheese fully inflates first. Although cheese racing originated in Britain, it works best with Kraft American singles. Word to the wise: Don't use reduced-fat cheese, which doesn't inflate nearly as well. Another word to the wise: Don't try to eat the cheese afterward.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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