Our First (and LAST!) Famous Historical Figure Shopping List Contest

If you missed my interview with Hillary Carlip yesterday, be sure to check it out here because today we're presenting you with a chance to win your very own copy of her new book, À la Cart. In the book, Hillary imagines what the authors of various shopping lists she's found over the years might have been like. She even dresses up like them and takes on their personalities.

I thought it would be fun if we gave you all the chance to write a shopping list for a famous historical figure. If Lincoln were headed to Wal*Mart, what would be on that list? If Greta Garbo were in Target, what might she be looking for? How about Darwin? What would he be padding down the aisles of Whole Foods for?

Hillary will winnow down the entries to 10 finalists and then we'll let YOU guys pick the winner, just like in our caption contests.

Again, I'd urge you to check out yesterday's interview and video trailer for the book to get a better sense of Hillary's aesthetic, and her original sense of humor. Then, be sure to drop your historical figure's shopping list in comments below. Who knows, maybe if we get enough good ones, I'll put them together in a collection and see if someone is interested in publishing them.

The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.


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