In Japan, Splintered Baseball Bats Are Turned Into Chopsticks

iStock.com/enterphoto
iStock.com/enterphoto

In Japan, a broken bowl or mug isn't necessarily destined for the nearest trash bin. Through the art of kintsugi, the shards are glued back together with a gold seal that calls attention to the cracks—the general idea being that flaws make something even more beautiful.

In a similar vein, many splintered baseball bats are also given a new lease on life in Japan. Bats that end up being broken by professional players are often turned into kattobashi: "a mash-up of the Japanese word for chopsticks and a baseball chant that translates as 'get a big hit,'" The New York Times explains. That's right—sports mementos that would typically be sold for upwards of $50 in the U.S. are turned into reusable chopsticks in Japan.

Each season, roughly 10,000 wooden bats are transformed into those ubiquitous eating utensils in an effort to cut down on waste and help preserve a threatened species of ash tree called the aodamo. Some bats are made from this material, although the practice is less common nowadays because the trees aren't readily available. Today, most are made from imported maple and white ash.

Sports teams in Japan weren't always so eco-conscious, though. The broken bats used to be burned or given away until chief executive Hyogoo Uratani of the Hyozaemon chopsticks company came along. With help from a friend who had been a pro baseball player, they convinced 12 teams to start recycling their bats. It's a mutually beneficial deal, with Hyozaemon paying a licensing fee to the teams, and the Nippon Professional Baseball organization donating funds each year to the nonprofit Aodamo Preservation Society.

They're also fun memorabilia to have on hand. A saw is used to break down the bats into smaller pieces, which are sanded into the shape of chopsticks. Team logos are imprinted on the wider part up top, and lastly they're coated in lacquer. For the ultimate baseball fan, it's a way to incorporate team pride into every aspect of daily life—even breakfast.

[The New York Times]

This Cool T-Shirt Shows Every Object Brought on the Apollo 11 Mission

Fringe Focus
Fringe Focus

NASA launched the Apollo 11 mission on July 16, 1969, ending the space race and beginning a new era of international space exploration. Just in time for the mission's 50th anniversary this year, Fringe Focus is selling a t-shirt that displays every item the Apollo 11 astronauts brought with them to the Moon.

The design, by artist Rob Loukotka, features some of the iconic objects from the mission, such as a space suit and helmet, as well as the cargo that never made it to primetime. Detailed illustrations of freeze-dried meals, toiletries, and maintenance kits are included on the shirt. The artist looked at 200 objects and chose to represent some similar items with one drawing, ending up with 69 pictures in total.

The unisex shirt is made from lightweight cotton, and comes in seven sizes ranging from small to 4XL. It's available in black heather or heather midnight navy for $29.

If you really like the design, the artwork is available in other forms. The same illustration has also been made into poster with captions indicating which pictures represent multiple items of a similar nature.

The Reason Sneakers Have an Extra Set of Holes

iStock/PredragImages
iStock/PredragImages

If you examine your favorite items of clothing closely enough, you may start to ask questions like: Why are shirt buttons on different sides for men and women? (Because, historically, women didn't dress themselves.) Or why do my jeans have a tiny pocket? (To hold your pocket watch, of course.) Both of the clothing quirks mentioned above are relics of a different time, but if you look at your sneakers, you'll find a commonly-ignored detail that can be useful to your daily life.

Most sneakers have an extra set of holes above the laces that are often left empty. The holes may not line up exactly with the rest of the laces, indicating that they're there to serve a special purpose. For many situations, ignoring this pair of holes is totally fine, but if you're tying up your shoes before a rigorous run or hike, you should take advantage of them.

The video below from the company Illumiseen illustrates how to create a heel lock with these extra holes. Start by taking one lace and poking it through the hole directly above it to create a loop, and then do the same with the lace on the other side. Next, take the ends of both laces and pull them through the opposite loops. Tighten the laces by pulling them downwards rather than up. After creating the heel lock, secure it with a regular bow tie.

What this method does is tighten the opening of your shoe around your ankle, thus preventing your heel from sliding against the back of it as you run. It also stops your toe from banging against the front of your shoe. The heel lock is especially handy for long runs, walks, and other activities that often end with heel blisters and bruised toes. Even if you aren't slipping on your shoes for exercise, lacing up those extra holes can make a loose-fitting sneaker feel more comfortable.

Of course, the trick only works as long as your laces stayed tied—which even the most expertly-tied knot can't guarantee. Here's some of the science behind why your shoes often untie themselves.

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