What's the wildest place you've been?

I'm a peculiar sort of wanderlust. I have only a marginal interest in going to see places that make it to "seven wonders" status, like the Pyramids or the Coliseum. When I look at a map -- or Google Earth -- my eyes are drawn to the most touristically-neglected parts of the map, as well as countries with unpronounceable names, barely-navigable terrain, and desolate, wide-open spaces. Last night a friend was telling me about his trip to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, and I found myself becoming unaccountably jealous. I've never been to any 'stans!

We're planning a trip to Eastern Europe next year -- Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic -- and that should help ease the pangs of wanderlust a bit, though I'll probably end up wishing I'd gone 10 or 15 years ago. Last spring I made it to Death Valley, and that was breathtakingly remote and beautiful (and surprisingly filled with cool and varied things to see).

The Sierra Club just released a custom Google Earth map marking "the 52 wildest places" in North America (with an eye toward keeping them that way). I've been to a few of them: the Everglades (I grew up in Florida) and Oregon's Mount Hood.

A few places on my global to-do list: Greenland, Alaska, Siberia, Northern Canada, Tierra del Fuego, Madagascar. What's the wildest place you've ever been?

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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