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The Weekend Links

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Happy New Year! And let's ring it in with some always spectacular photos from Boston.com's "Welcoming in 2010" (via Lemondrop)

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Who need New Year resolutions when trophies exist for people who can sit watching TV for 48 hours? In 2010, try becoming The Ultimate Couch Potato!
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Extra! Extra! "Use Clothing to Keep Warm in Winter," "Death is Nation's Top Killer," "Report on Report Sees Too Many Reports," and other painfully obvious new stories. (Thanks Sarah!)
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From the Annals of Too Much Time: Every time I turn around I feel like someone else is doing something Lego-related. But this one might take the cake - it seems that someone has devised an actual, life-sized Lego House.
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While examining the shiny new electronics you received over the holidays, consider how far we've come with these key moments in consumer electronics history. Flossers, what are the oldest pieces of electronics you own? (Bonus points if they still work!) I have an ancient Mac desktop from the early 90s that has a whopping 4MG of RAM. Don't be jealous!
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As yet another season of the Bachelor revs up, and all of those Daisy's Money Charm School of Rock New York Love VH-1 shows continue to give most of us severe headaches, it seems impossible to think of worse ideas for dating shows existing. But wait, there's more! There are, in fact, several really, truly bad dating shows that never quite made it off the ground that will indeed blow your mind.

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Wordle makes words into art - see the creations of others or make your own (an easy way to start is putting in the text of a play or a collection of poems - pretty words and a pretty setting!) You can also manipulate the font, color, etc. (Thanks Jan!)
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There's been plenty of news this past year about airplane emergencies, but how would you really deal with it if you were involved? Like a badass, of course (as College Humor imagines it, anyway).
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AARP put together an uplifting video to start off your decade right - it seems depressing at first, but give it time!
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Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" was in fact the first of many. Many marketing campaigns, that is. "Lost" just released their version of the "Last Supper," and with it they carry on in a long tradition of strategically-placed meal time photos, most of which are head-scratchers.
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For the first time since I graduated from college, I was able to take almost a week off for Christmas. "Amazing!" I thought. Then I remembered the almost 6-weeks I was granted in the ole University days. What gives with those long breaks, anyway? Slate's Explainer has the scoop on why college students get such long winter vacations.
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The blog "That Will Buff Out" explores vehicular oddities of all kinds (the first picture threw me off as to what kind of blog it was, but apparently the driver of the car took the picture and no one was hurt so ... alrighty then!)
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Ok, indulge me ONE "top ten of the decade" list - you know I haven't overused my privilege! Time to look back in remembrance at all the -Gate scandals of 2009 ... and hope that particular suffix is now a thing of the past while you're at it!
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... and just one more! Ten Psychology Studies from 2009 Worth Knowing About.
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Put this in the category of "things that blow my mind and continue to do so even after this simple and informative map:" how a digital camera works.
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If you are uncertain about where you are headed in the job market, go old school with it: be inspired by some of this beautiful iron work by an actual smith. A smith!
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Finally, some Gothic jewelry if you are in a dark and wintry mood!
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It's good to be back! Hope everyone had a great holiday - just don't forget to keep sending in links to kick off 2010! Submissions go to FlossyLinks@gmail.com. Stay warm!

[Last Weekend 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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Lucy Quintanilla/iStock
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travel
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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