The Weird Week in Review

Restaurant Serves Breast Milk Ice Cream

A ice cream parlor in London, England has a new flavor on the menu. “Baby Gaga” is made from 75% human breast milk and 25% cow milk (plus vanilla and other flavoring). The Icecreamists will begin selling the ice cream Friday. The breast milk comes from 15 women who are receiving the equivalent of $1.61 an ounce for their milk, making lactation quite lucrative for the mothers. The ice cream will sell for $22 a serving.

Dog Rescued by Dolphins

A doberman pincher named Turbo went missing from his home in Marco Island, Florida last weekend. He was gone for 15 hours before being pulled out of a canal by a neighbor Monday morning. Owner Cindy Burnett said the splashing of dolphins alerted the neighbor to the dog in distress.

“The lady here who had gotten him out of the canal said, ‘No, the dolphins were with him,’” Burnett explained.

Dolphins got a neighbor’s attention – alerting them to a stranded pooch in shallow water.

“If he had to tread water all night long, I know he wouldn’t have been able to,” Burnett said.

Beer to be Classified as Alcohol in Russia

For the first time in history, beer, currently classified as food, is set to be reclassified as an alcoholic drink in Russia. The move is a part of the Kremlin’s war on alcoholism, as beer consumption has tripled over the last 15 years in the country. The new classification means that officials can limit when beer is sold and regulate the size of the containers. Many Russians consider beer to be a soft drink.

Museum Finds Vandalism Funny

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts rented a billboard sign for their exhibition “Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting.” It featured a portion of the nude painting Venus Rising from the Sea. It didn’t stay nude. Someone painted a red bra on the artwork and the letters “Brrr”. The museum’s head of public relations, Anne-Marie Wagener, found the paint job funny, especially with the hint that Venus was cold in the Minnesota weather. Without that, Wagener said, it would look like censorship. The museum will leave the billboard as it is for now.

Nun Tossed Out Over Facebook

Sister Maria Jesus Galan was asked to leave the Santo Domingo el Real convent in Toledo, Spain, where she had lived for 35 years -over her Facebook activities. The Dominican convent, which normally discourages nuns from dealing with the outside world, first allowed a computer in ten years ago, and Sister Maria put it to work. She digitized the convent’s archives and even won awards for her computer work. But fellow nuns complained that Sister Maria’s Facebook habit interfered with cloistered life and “made life impossible.” At the time, Sister Maria had 600 Facebook friends. She was asked to leave, and now lives with her mother in Toledo. Her Facebook profile shows 1900 friends now, and her fan page has over 11,000 supporters.

America’s Most-injured Soldier Going Back to War

Captain D.J. Skelton was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Fallujah in 2004. The explosive tore through his face. Six years and 60 surgical operations later, Skelton is left with a missing eye, no palate, and limited use of his left arm and ankle. The captain used his years of recovery to graduate from West Point, learn Chinese, and prepare to return to active duty.

Retired Army officer Lieutenant General John Nagl, a friend of Capt Skelton, said what he had accomplished should have been ‘physically incapable for him’.

‘Certain things are tough for him to do. The rifle is tough. He’s good with a pistol. In some cases, it’s good to have a company commander behind a rifle, but he makes up for it in other ways.

‘I have no doubt that he will succeed’.

Skelton is scheduled to take command of the 192 men from his previous unit in southern Afghanistan.

Cat Purrs at 90 Decibels

The loudest purr in the world? Let’s hope so! Smokey the cat, of Pitsford, Northampton, England, purrs so loudly that her owners Ruth and Mark Adams can’t hear themselves think. They have trouble watching the TV or holding phone conversations when Smokey is in the room. The cat’s purr averages around 80 decibels and at least once measured 90 decibels. That’s as loud as a lawnmower or a plane landing!

Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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