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Some of our early _floss posts

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So I'm going to be on the radio tomorrow afternoon (5 pm Pacific time)—on a great show produced from the OC called Writers on Writing. And thanks to the wonderful World Wide Web, you'll be able to tune in via live stream, iffin' you'd like, or catch it later on an iTunes podcast. (On the KUCI website, click the stream link in the upper right-hand corner.)
And while most of the interview will be about my first novel, Behind Everyman, there will also be some talk of a novel I just finished called The Art of Love, as well as some talk about the _floss. So I thought it might be a good time to drop some trivia about the history of the _floss. For those who can tune in tomorrow, the first one to hear me drop a related _floss-factoid on the show and enter it in the comments below will receive an autographed copy of my book, and maybe even a _floss t-shirt (if Mangesh is feeling generous).

The early daze:

Mangesh posted the very first entry on this blog, way back on March 1st, 2006. It was about a rather sick cat-piano of sorts (what's with this site's infatuation with cats?!)

The first non-Mangesh post to the blog was by John Green on March 31st, 2006, and had something to do with Descartes looking like Inigo Montoya.

Technically, you might say March 31st was also the day the blog went live, since all the other early bloggers (including yours truly) also posted a couple times that day. One of my first was about the then-upcoming Pixar release, Cars.

Will's first post, a short one about very long things, including the world's longest animal, the Ribbon Worm, is also worth noting, as is this one from Mary on a cool application that let's you plug in your own text to Einstein's e=mc2 chalkboard.

Back then, the only comments we were getting were from ourselves, but a little over a year later and we now have over 2,500 posts and nearly 12,500 comments! So thanks to all you loyal readers out there and tune in tomorrow at 5pm Pacific Time (8 pm EDT) for more trivia.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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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.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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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]

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