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Museums of the Mundane

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We are obsessed with chronicling history—immortalizing the past behind glass in a bevy of beguiling museums. But while it makes sense that dinosaurs, mummies and Monet have become the bread and butter of curators across the globe, there are also plenty of museums that seek to show off stranger and much less enthralling fare.

In fact, a lot of museums out there seem downright mundane. You'd be surprised how much culture you're getting just by rolling out of bed:

7am Sunday morning. You drag yourself out of deep reverie and sit up in your bed.

Jiangnan Hundred-Bed Museum

Located in Wu Zhen, China, this museum is a 1200-square-foot snooze fest—literally. It houses dozens of beds from the Ming and Qing dynasties.

7:15am. You successfully extricate yourself from your sheets and stumble into the kitchen. You pop a prepackaged pastry into the toaster.

The Toaster Museum


Compiled by the Toaster Museum Foundation, this eye-popping collection of more than 500 toasters currently resides at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. They've got everything from pre-electric 19th century toasting forks to appliances designed by Michael Graves.

7:16am. You peel a banana.

The International Banana Club Museum


Who knew that Altadena, California, was home to the world's largest collection of banana-related paraphernalia? With everything from "hard" items (their words, not mine), including an ancient petrified banana, to banana clothing, this place has a certain appeal. Be warned though, according to their Web site: "Nothing lude, crude or lucivious to do with bananas is accepted or displayed in this B.M."


8am. Come on, dude, brush your teeth already! You fire up your electric toothbrush.

Toothbrush Museum


Although it's only available online, this Swedish museum boasts more than 2,500 pictures of the dental tool. It's like every little anal-retentive child's dream come true.

9am. After thoroughly brushing, you decide to surf the web. So you fire up your computer.

Computer History Museum


Appropriately situated in Silicon Valley, this monument to technology houses everything from the Babbage Engine to an exhibit on the history of computer chess.

11am. Your husband/wife/significant other/mother/father tells you to get off the computer and mow the lawn because the neighborhood association is complaining about your unruly grass length. You go to the garage and hunt for the lawnmower.

British Lawnmower Museum


A museum entirely devoted to cutting grass, this place has the best tagline ever: "It's all you need to mow."

12pm. Mowing the lawn makes you feel ever so industrious. You decide to pay your bills. Being a fan of licking things, you have not yet switched to online billing. You break out the stamps.

Post Mark Museum and Research Library


With over a million different postal items, this Ohio museum has the largest collection of mail-related items in the world. (Maybe that's where all my magazines went after I changed addresses"¦)

1pm. Inspired by this article, you decide to head out to a museum and get yourself some culture.

MuseumLink's Museum of Museums


A work in progress, this Web site seeks to aggregate all the museums in the country (and Canada) in one place. Check it out next time you're in the mood to browse everything from mummies and Monet to the utterly mundane.

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Let Alexa Help You Brine a Turkey This Thanksgiving
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There’s a reason most of us only cook turkey once a year: The bird is notoriously easy to overcook. You could rely on gravy and cranberry sauce to salvage your dried-out turkey this Thanksgiving, or you could follow cooking advice from the experts.

Brining a turkey is the best way to guarantee it retains its moisture after hours in the oven. The process is also time-consuming, so do yourself a favor this year and let Alexa be your sous chef.

“Morton Brine Time” is a new skill from the cloud-based home assistant. If you own an Amazon Echo you can download it for free by going online or by asking Alexa to enable it. Once it’s set up, start asking Alexa for brining tips and step-by-step recipes customized to the size of your turkey. Two recipes were developed by Richard Blais, the celebrity chef and restaurateur best known for his Top Chef win and Food Network appearances.

Whether you go for a wet brine (soaking your turkey in water, salt, sugar, and spices) or a dry one (just salt and spices), the process isn’t as intimidating as it sounds. And the knowledge that your bird will come out succulent and juicy will definitely take some stress out of the holiday.

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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images
Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.


Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.


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