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Our Readers Are Nerds! (We Have Proof)

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I've long harbored a suspicion that most of our floss readers (and certainly our staffers) are closet nerds, and as far as I'm concerned, this photo challenge proved it. Somehow, we tricked legions of you into opening those closets, finding the nerdiest slash most embarrassing photos you could find of yourselves, then emailing them to us so we could post them on the internet. (And on a modestly popular website, at that.) What were you thinking??

Naturally, we got tons of submissions. We can't post them all here, but we'll post the most acutely embarrassing shots and put the rest on our Flickr page. Let the humiliation begin!


Above: reader Matt writes "I don't know what to be more embarrassed about: the chubby belly, the pulled-up socks, the weird face I'm making or the Tron shirt." Taken at Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida, circa 1985."

Reader Kay and her father tickle the ivories. "I still love music," she writes, "though I've since managed to cure my childhood exhibitionism."
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Reader Jenny went as french fries for Halloween. Judging from the hair: 1986ish?
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Shaya Lewin, age six, Cleveland, Ohio. "This may be the first time my mom let me dress myself."
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Reader Tina was a long way from puberty in this photo, but already excited about bras:
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Joe from Iowa sent in this picture of he and his brother ("deep in the 70s"), pretending to smoke and drink. Well, allegedly pretending.stubbies.jpg

Kathy writes: "This would be me upgrading a pre-windows era Tandy. Yes, I'm a girl. Yes, that's a Tandy." Nerd city, population: you!
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Chad about to be mauled by a deer at the petting zoo.
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Reader Kate doing a seductive dance with a mop on her head:
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Carrie's husband Steve doing an impersonation of his mother, years ago, while wearing her glasses. Definitely embarrassing, and vaguely Norman Bates-y to boot. Thanks, Carrie!
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Mental_Floss staffers
OK, we've humiliated our readers enough, now it's time to turn the lens on ourselves.

Bloggers Jason Plautz (left) and Brett Savage (right), dressed as an old lady and Batman's sidekick, respectively.
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Mental_Floss magazine editor-in-chief Neely Harris waterskiing with her teeth (left) and barking orders at the photographer (right). How this makes Neely look like anything other than a badass, I'm not certain.
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The many sides of Higgins. First, the scholar:
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... and the greaser. Higgins explains: "When I was six, I had a lot of denim clothes. I remember one day deciding to become a sort of greaser badass. I figured that I could bad-ify myself by wearing all denim, with striped bandanas randomly tied around my extremities, then adopting some kind of karate pose."
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Stacy was kind enough to send me this shot, which is awesomely nerdy in more ways than I can count. Between the glasses, the grandma, and the matching hot pink pants, hat and balloon ...
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... or the fact that they're standing right in front of a calendar, which reads:
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... an embarrassing year for kids everywhere, to be sure. Myself included:

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Yikes. Merry Christmas, kitty.

Below: writers David and Andréa, worshiping God (left) and the Lord of the Dance (right).
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Miss Cellania circa 1974:
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Many more on our Flickr page!

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Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
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Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

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10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
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GraveDiggerCandles

Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).

1. KISA CANDLE

PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.

2. BRAIN CANDLE

Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.

3. HUMAN SPINE CANDLES

Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.

4. OUIJA BOARD CANDLE

LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.

5. BLEEDING HEART CANDLE

Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.

6. PICK YOUR POISON CANDLES

Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.

7. CREEPY WOODS & GRAVEYARD DIRT CANDLE

Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.

8. WITCH FARTS CANDLE

Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”

9. GHOST REPELLENT CANDLE

Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.

10. ZOMBIE GOLDEN GIRLS PRAYER CANDLE SET

Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.

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