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The Weekend Links

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"¢ From Jan, a list of the Craziest Shoes from Around the World. The dog ones are by far the creepiest, although they definitely have some competition in this collection.

Beer myths debunked, from Paul. Apparently untrue: my belief that drinking a pint of Guinness is equivalent to eating a loaf of bread. Although my stomach still kinda stands by that one.

"¢ As exam season approaches, consider this humble procrastination tool from Amanda, who sends us a great link to a site full of fun games with wonderfully soothing music.

"¢ A story about The Wind, and how he overcame his loneliness.

"¢ Reader Lexi has a blog full of interesting and provocative photography. To start, some beautiful pictures of people serenely floating. Being stuck in an office as summer approaches, these definitely make me wistful for the beach.

"¢ Rain is in the forecast for us this weekend. Here's a fun way to spend an afternoon indoors: how to dye yarn with Kool Aid.

"¢ From the AV Club, 15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone else. So it goes.

"¢ Ah, it's (finally) time for the NFL draft! As I spend 15 hours in front of the TV watching the drama unfold, read Tuesday Morning Quarterback's mocking of all the mock-drafts that lead up to this event. Still in the spirit? Read about the biggest draft busts here...

...then take our 'Name the Last 20 #1 Picks' quiz.

"¢ My friend Andrea sent this to me just as I was compiling this list, and I felt I should include it, mostly to ask you all ... can anyone tell me exactly what it is?

"¢ The 2008 Fortune 500 was announced this week. Think you can guess the top ten American corporations? Here's a little quiz.

"¢ New favorite person Angie has once again sent in a plethora of great links (and I encourage all of you to follow her example!) We'll start with this one: Where's Waldo on Google Earth? Everyone's favorite disappearing wanderer has a new home ... somewhere in Canada!

"¢ Recession? What recession? Pirates are finding business to be booming.

"¢ Fantastic array of staged photos that play on the "death by chocolate" concept, including death by oreoes, lifesavers, etc. May not be for the sensitive.

"¢ Speaking of fantastic color, here's a link to the beautiful and soothing Sony Bravia commercials that aired in the UK. I would love love love to be there for the next one they film. Anyone have any leads?

Kiwi animation video that will exploit the gambit of your emotions from contentment to sadness at seeing the little guy truly get what he wants.




"¢ Thanks to my friend Reena who, in response to last week's video on a similar subject, sends me this jewel of another talented youngster playing music in a fun way.

"¢ Peruse pictures from an earlier time, with a website devoted to vintage Sears, Wards, JC Penny and other retailers' Christmas catalogs, which, like all things old (except people), creeps me out just a little.

Thanks once again to everyone who sent in such great links this week ... I feel like the ball is definitely rolling on this. Don't stop! Clean out your bookmarks and send them my way: FlossyLinks@gmail.com.

[Last Weekend's Links]

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Space
Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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6 East Coast Castles to Visit for a Fairy Tale Road Trip
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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock

Once the stuff of fairy tales and legends, a variety of former castles have been repurposed today as museums and event spaces. Enough of them dot the East Coast that you can plan a summer road trip to visit half a dozen in a week or two, starting in or near New York City. See our turrent-rich itinerary below.

STOP 1: BANNERMAN CASTLE // BEACON, NEW YORK

59 miles from New York City

The crumbling exterior of Bannerman Castle
Garrett Ziegler, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bannerman Castle can be found on its very own island in the Hudson River. Although the castle has fallen into ruins, the crumbling shell adds visual interest to the stunning Hudson Highlands views, and can be visited via walking or boat tours from May to October. The man who built the castle, Scottish immigrant Frank Bannerman, accumulated a fortune shortly after the Civil War in his Brooklyn store known as Bannerman’s. He eventually built the Scottish-style castle as both a residence and a military weapons storehouse starting in 1901. The island remained in his family until 1967, when it was given to the Taconic Park Commission; two years later it was partially destroyed by a mysterious fire, which led to its ruined appearance.

STOP 2. GILLETTE CASTLE STATE PARK // EAST HADDAM, CONNECTICUT

116 miles from Beacon, New York

William Gillette was an actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, which may have something to do with where he got the idea to install a series of hidden mirrors in his castle, using them to watch guests coming and going. The unusual-looking stone structure was built starting in 1914 on a chain of hills known as the Seven Sisters. Gillette designed many of the castle’s interior features (which feature a secret room), and also installed a railroad on the property so he could take his guests for rides. When he died in 1937 without designating any heirs, his will forbade the possession of his home by any "blithering sap-head who has no conception of where he is or with what surrounded.” The castle is now managed by the State of Connecticut as Gillette Castle State Park.

STOP 3. BELCOURT CASTLE // NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

74 miles from East Haddam, Connecticut

The exterior of Belcourt castle
Jenna Rose Robbins, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Prominent architect Richard Morris Hunt designed Belcourt Castle for congressman and socialite Oliver Belmont in 1891. Hunt was known for his ornate style, having designed the facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Breakers in Newport, Rhode Island, but Belmont had some unusual requests. He was less interested in a building that would entertain people and more in one that would allow him to spend time with his horses—the entire first floor was designed around a carriage room and stables. Despite its grand scale, there was only one bedroom. Construction cost $3.2 million in 1894, a figure of approximately $80 million today. But around the time it was finished, Belmont was hospitalized following a mugging. It took an entire year before he saw his completed mansion.

STOP 4. HAMMOND CASTLE MUSEUM // GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS

111 miles from Newport, Rhode Island

Part of the exterior of Hammond castle
Robert Linsdell, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. built his medieval-style castle between 1926 and 1929 as both his home and a showcase for his historical artifacts. But Hammond was not only interested in recreating visions of the past; he also helped shape the future. The castle was home to the Hammond Research Corporation, from which Hammond produced over 400 patents and came up with the ideas for over 800 inventions, including remote control via radio waves—which earned him the title "the Father of Remote Control." Visitors can take a self-guided tour of many of the castle’s rooms, including the great hall, indoor courtyard, Renaissance dining room, guest bedrooms, inventions exhibit room, library, and kitchens.

STOP 5. BOLDT CASTLE // ALEXANDRIA BAY, THOUSAND ISLANDS, NEW YORK

430 miles from Gloucester, Massachusetts

It's a long drive from Gloucester and only accessible by water, but it's worth it. The German-style castle on Heart Island was built in 1900 by millionaire hotel magnate George C. Boldt, who created the extravagant structure as a summer dream home for his wife Louise. Sadly, she passed away just months before the place was completed. The heartbroken Boldt stopped construction, leaving the property empty for over 70 years. It's now in the midst of an extensive renovation, but the ballroom, library, and several bedrooms have been recreated, and the gardens feature thousands of plants.

STOP 6. FONTHILL CASTLE // DOYLESTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

327 miles from Alexandria Bay, New York

Part of the exterior of Fonthill castle

In the mood for more castles? Head south to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where Fonthill Castle was the home of the early 20th century American archeologist, anthropologist, and antiquarian Henry Chapman Mercer. Mercer was a man of many interests, including paleontology, tile-making, and architecture, and his interest in the latter led him to design Fonthill Castle as a place to display his colorful tile and print collection. The inspired home is notable for its Medieval, Gothic, and Byzantine architectural styles, and with 44 rooms, there's plenty of well-decorated nooks and crannies to explore.

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