CLOSE
Original image

Extreme Yo-Yo-ing

Original image

Our friends over at Treehugger.com are into Yo-Yos (and no, I don't mean of the cello-playing variety). Check out the interesting variety they've got going on with stories on yo-yos made from sustainable wood, another that powers an ice-cream maker, and my personal favorite (hint, hint, as the holiday's approach): a wireless yo-yo powered MP3 player, which they say takes only a dozen or so tosses to charge the thing up for continuous music play! Yes, yo-yos have come a long way.

Largely considered the second oldest toy in history (the first being a doll, of course), the yo-yo is thought to have originated in China. The first historical mention, however, dates from the year 500 B.C. where Greek children are said to have offered them up to the Gods for good luck.

YoYo0.gif

YoYo1a.gifLater, in the 16th century, hunters in the Philippines used yo-yo-like devices as weapons. Apparently they'd hide in trees and launch rocks from their long cords, drawing them back up in the discs when they missed their target!

louxvii.jpgAn article over at Spintastics.com reports that later still, in the 18th century, in France, a Vigée Le Brun painting "shows the 4 year-old, future King Louis XVII holding his l'emigrette. It was during this time of the French Revolution and the 'Reign of Terror,' that many of the French aristocracy were forced to flee to Paris, Germany and across other borders when their style of life was threatened by the peasant uprisings, taking their popular yo-yos made of glass and ivory with them. L'emigrette is a French term meaning to "˜leave the country.' Another nickname for the yo-yo at this time was de Coblenz, which was a city to which many French fled. These names reflect an important historical connection between the toy and the French Revolution."

These days, a state-of-the-art, forged-magnesium-alloy, ultralong-spinning Duncan yo-yo. can sell for as much as $400! Why the hefty price tag? Well, it's all about getting some "sleep"—that's what the pros call it when a yo-yo spins on the end of it's string. Traditionally, if you could get one to sleep for ten or twenty seconds, that was a big deal. In today's extreme world, technology allows yo-yo champions like Tim Redmond to put their yo-yos to sleep for a staggering 16 minutes and 17.18 seconds, the current world record. Something tells me if the Greeks had our technology, they'd have included a yo-yo competition in the original Olympic games.

Original image
iStock
arrow
Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
Original image
iStock

According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

Original image
iStock
arrow
fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
Original image
iStock

If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios