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Office Hours Extended!

By popular demand—and by "popular demand," I mean "one guy who asked politely"—we'll hold Office Hours again on Friday.

In a newsletter last month, mental_floss co-founder Mangesh asked readers for suggestions about additions to our site. Good ideas poured in, and one person reminded me of something we used to do from time to time:

"Remember when you used to hold Office Hours and chat with readers via Instant Messenger? You should do that again. Maybe you'll receive good suggestions that way."

I loved to see a suggestion about suggestions. That meta-quality is reminiscent of Executive Order 5658, which Hoover issued in 1931 to standardize the paper size, margins and format of Executive Orders.

But anyway, good idea. It's been about 18 months since I last hung the 'Office Hours' sign. If you've been wondering about anything related to mental_floss, I'd be happy to try to clear things up. People had all sorts of fun questions last time: Can my nephew have an internship? Is Mangesh single? How about Ransom?

I'll fire up the AOL Instant Messenger around 1:15pm 11:15am Eastern Time today. My username is flossyjason. Talk soon!

(And if you're wondering why this is happening today, I've got a fever and a nagging cough, and this I can do from bed.)

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History
A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

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video
A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room
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The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.

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