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Meanwhile, at the mental_floss Store...

The _flossers who run our retail store/distribution center/business office in Chesterland, Ohio, have been extra busy this holiday season, so mental_floss co-founder/president/publisher Will Pearson flew up from Birmingham last week to lend a hand (and pose for pictures while doing it). Here he is behind the register. He also got a "not bad" in box carrying.

back-office

If you're planning to order some t-shirts (or Freudian Slippers), you might be looking at them.

orders

And if you already placed an order, it could be in this batch.

Live in the greater Cleveland area? Stop on by! Here's the address: 8051 Mayfield Rd, Chesterland, OH (View on Google Maps.)

Between now and December 23rd, the store will be open from 10am-6pm weekdays and noon-4pm Saturday and Sunday. Everything on sale there is also available online, so if you're not going to be in Cleveland in the near future, no problem.

Mangesh and I will be making our pilgrimage to Chesterland next month. I'm on a mission to get in a staff photo with Leo, the retail store/distribution center/business office dog.

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History
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]

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

For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com 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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