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Lessons From My Broken Toe

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You guys. I think my house is totally haunted by malevolent spirits. People keep falling down the stairs. I fell down the basement stairs last spring and gave myself a concussion (I went to work anyway). My mom fell down the same stairs in May and broke her ankle in two places (she had it fixed and went to Mexico anyway). Friday night, I fell down the stairs that go from the loft to the first floor and broke my big toe (I went to a bar anyway. I did not take painkillers that night though).

While some of you non-believers might say, "Hey, idiot, stop wearing socks on your wood stairs," I prefer to think that evil beings lurk in my 1923 house and randomly push people down the stairs "“ we DO live across the street from a cemetery. My husband tested this theory by running up and down the stairs about four times in a row, but nothing pushed him. Perhaps it's an evil spirit that doesn't like women.

Here's what happened: I fell down the stairs while he was taking the dogs out. He came in and I was sitting on a chair with my foot up on the ottoman, staring at my toe sticking toward my body at a 90 degree angle. "I think I broke my toe," I said.

"Well, they don't do much for broken toes," he told me, and bent down to look at it. He touched the bottom of my foot with his finger. "Uh"¦ does that hurt?"


"I think that's your bone." So that sort of changed things. He carried me to the car and we drove to the hospital; he carried me inside and I plopped my foot down on the desk of the woman doing admissions. "I think I broke my toe," I told her.

From there on out, I was kind of the freak show of the hospital. People would do a double take when they walked by the room where I was waiting for the doctor to fix me. A cop stopped in when he saw the strange angle of my toe and he and my husband had a long discussion about dislocated digits. They compared old injuries. Meanwhile I sat there enjoying the drugs they were pumping into me.

Anyway, suffice it to say I learned some interesting things throughout this whole ordeal. Among them:

"¢ When the broken bone sticks out through the skin, it's called an open fracture. Apparently this is rare (yay me!)
"¢ Usually you only need ibuprofen for a broken toe. Me? I'm on percocet.
"¢ The medical term for the big toe is hallux.
"¢ Most people's second toe is shorter than their big toe. Mine is not. This is called "Mitten foot".
"¢ Women have about four times as many foot problems as men. This might be due to the structure of high heels. That's not going to stop me from wearing them, though "“ I love shoes.

This isn't me, but this video essentially shows what the doctor did to my toe to get it back in place. I'm not going to lie; it was kind of cool.

OK, now it's time to make me feel better about my stupidity. Tell me about your freak accidents and ridiculous injuries!

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Big Questions
What's the Difference Between Vanilla and French Vanilla Ice Cream?
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While you’re browsing the ice cream aisle, you may find yourself wondering, “What’s so French about French vanilla?” The name may sound a little fancier than just plain ol’ “vanilla,” but it has nothing to do with the origin of the vanilla itself. (Vanilla is a tropical plant that grows near the equator.)

The difference comes down to eggs, as The Kitchn explains. You may have already noticed that French vanilla ice cream tends to have a slightly yellow coloring, while plain vanilla ice cream is more white. That’s because the base of French vanilla ice cream has egg yolks added to it.

The eggs give French vanilla ice cream both a smoother consistency and that subtle yellow color. The taste is a little richer and a little more complex than a regular vanilla, which is made with just milk and cream and is sometimes called “Philadelphia-style vanilla” ice cream.

In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered in 2010—when Baskin-Robbins decided to eliminate French Vanilla from its ice cream lineup—ice cream industry consultant Bruce Tharp noted that French vanilla ice cream may date back to at least colonial times, when Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both used ice cream recipes that included egg yolks.

Jefferson likely acquired his taste for ice cream during the time he spent in France, and served it to his White House guests several times. His family’s ice cream recipe—which calls for six egg yolks per quart of cream—seems to have originated with his French butler.

But everyone already knew to trust the French with their dairy products, right?

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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Belly Flop Physics 101: The Science Behind the Sting
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Belly flops are the least-dignified—yet most painful—way of making a serious splash at the pool. Rarely do they result in serious physical injury, but if you’re wondering why an elegant swan dive feels better for your body than falling stomach-first into the water, you can learn the laws of physics that turn your soft torso a tender pink by watching the SciShow’s video below.


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