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12 Favorite Haunts of the Founding Fathers You Can Still Visit Today

The Founding Fathers built the groundwork for America, but they were much more than military strategists and document writers. Like modern Americans, the Founding Fathers knew how to enjoy life, and spent their leisure time (and in some cases, work time) grabbing a pint at the tavern, scarfing down desserts, and exploring the great outdoors. To celebrate these iconic Americans, we’ve compiled 12 favorite haunts of the Founding Fathers that you can still visit today.

1. GREEN DRAGON TAVERN // BOSTON

The Green Dragon Tavern was known for its drinks, but it was also an important meeting spot where the Founding Fathers made important decisions about this country—like to throw the Boston Tea Party (and the equally important decision to save their rum and toss the tea!), and the resolutions that built our Federal Constitution. It's also often claimed that this is where, in 1775, British plans for the invasion of Lexington and Concord were overheard and Paul Revere was dispatched for his famous ride to warn the colonists. (According to a letter from Revere, they only met at The Green Dragon until November 1774, when they discovered that they had a traitor in their midst and moved to a more secure location.) The Green Dragon is no longer in its original location, but its historic significance as the “Headquarters of the Revolution” remains strong—just like its rum punch.

2. BELL IN HAND // BOSTON

Back in the day, big names like Daniel Webster and Paul Revere frequented Bell in Hand for its good booze and great company. Opened by the retired town crier in 1795, it was known as the primary alehouse in Boston (its proprietor refused to sell harder liquors). Today, Bell in Hand (which moved to its present-day location in 1844) is more about dancing and drinking than defending our country’s freedom. But hey, even the Founding Fathers had to let loose sometimes, right?

3. ADAMS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK // QUINCY, MASSACHUSETTS

John Adams's former residence—his “sweet little farm”—has been turned into a historic museum center that tells the story of the Adams family, from its presidents and first ladies to its writers, and everyone in between. And though you can't grab a drink at the site, if you'd like to drink like the second president, start your morning with a tankard of hard cider. Adams was known to down hard cider for breakfast every day, starting from when he was a 15-year-old student at Harvard through his presidency and retirement.

4. MOUNT VERNON INN RESTAURANT // MOUNT VERNON, VIRGINIA

George Washington may have traveled all over this country, but his favorite place of all was home sweet Mount Vernon. Today, you can dine like George Washington just steps from his estate at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant, which serves some of the legendary president’s favorite dishes like freshly caught fish and apple pie (though they don't have his beloved Madeira wine). The Mount Vernon Inn does not require admission tickets like the GW Estate and is a great way to taste some Founding Father flavors.

5. BAR ORDINARY // NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

Before leading the army to Cambridge in 1775, George Washington spent the night at New Haven's Beers Tavern, and gathered 100 Yale students (including the fife-playing Noah Webster—he of dictionary-creation fame) in front of the bar the next morning to march with him out of the town. Fast forward more than 240 years, and you can still dine and imbibe at this iconic spot—now called Bar Ordinary—which has also seen visitors like presidents Abraham Lincoln and William Howard Taft.

6. PISCATAQUA RIVER // KITTERY, MAINE

While visiting the New England area in the late 1700s, George Washington made a pit stop for cod fishing in the Piscataqua River right off the shores of Kittery, Maine. Washington didn’t have much luck on his trip—he reported only catching two—but today, you can give it a try to see how your fishing skills compare to our nation’s first president.

7. WHITE HORSE TAVERN // NEWPORT, RHODE ISLAND

Rumor has it George Washington celebrated Rhode Island’s ratification of the U.S. Constitution in 1790 at—among many popular places—the White Horse Tavern in Newport. Today, you can raise a glass at the White Horse just like Washington, but don't dress like you're headed to a pub—this iconic spot requires country club or business casual attire.

8. LAKE CHAMPLAIN // LAKE CHAMPLAIN VALLEY, VERMONT

James Madison and Thomas Jefferson crossed Lake Champlain from New York to explore Vermont—which had just become the 14th state—in early 1791, but the two Virginians left mostly unimpressed by the area as a whole, saying that it is "much larger but less pleasant water than L. George." But Jefferson did appear to be enjoy the fish, mentioning the 20-pound catfish, sturgeon, and salmon, and he was also pleased by how few mosquitos were in the area.

9. HAMILTON PARK // WEEHAWKEN, NEW JERSEY

On July 11, 1804, vice president Aaron Burr shot and mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton in America’s most famous duel. While you may not (read: should not) reenact the Burr/Hamilton duel scene, you can walk the grounds where this historic event took place at the Hamilton Park in Weehawken, New Jersey while reciting Hamilton lyrics if your head. Side note: Don’t forget your camera, because Hamilton Park also has some of the best NYC skyline views!

10. CITY TAVERN // PHILADELPHIA

We can thank Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern for supplying the food and spirits needed to make this country what it is today. The Founding Fathers spent many late nights here while preparing the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution—according to George Washington, on September 17, 1787, after the Constitution was signed and ready to be sent to the states for ratification, "The members adjourned to the City Tavern, dined together, and took a cordial leave of each other." While today’s clientele may have fewer powdered wigs and breeches, you can still dine and drink circa the 18th century at this fully operational, completely reconstructed tavern.

11. GADSBY'S TAVERN // ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

With guests like John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Virginia native George Washington, the Gadsby's Tavern made quite a name for itself among the country’s most elite. Thomas Jefferson was even honored with a banquet there in 1801, the year he became president. And though you may not have an inaugural fete thrown in your honor, you can dine on "George Washington's Favorite" (a grilled duck breast with scalloped potatoes and a port wine orange glaze) or "Gentleman's Pye" (a lamb and beef red wine stew in a pastry crust) in this National Historical Landmark’s Colonial-style dining rooms.

12. FRAUNCES TAVERN // NEW YORK CITY

Lower Manhattan’s Fraunces Tavern is possibly the most monumental haunt of them all—it served as the location of General George Washington's farewell dinner to the officers of his Continental Army after the last British soldiers left America in 1783. Today, you can visit the Fraunces Tavern Museum’s Long Room—the site of Washington’s speech—and grab a pint to (figuratively) pour one out for the most famous of the founding fathers, and all the early Americans who helped make the revolution a success.

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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iStock
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8 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded
May 25, 2017
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iStock

Dogs are a lot more complicated than we give them credit for. As a result, sometimes things get lost in translation. We’ve yet to invent a dog-to-English translator, but there are certain behaviors you can learn to read in order to better understand what your dog is trying to tell you. The more tuned-in you are to your dog’s emotions, the better you’ll be able to respond—whether that means giving her some space or welcoming a wet, slobbery kiss. 

1. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with his legs and body relaxed and tail low. His ears are up, but not pointed forward. His mouth is slightly open, he’s panting lightly, and his tongue is loose. His eyes? Soft or maybe slightly squinty from getting his smile on.

What it means: “Hey there, friend!” Your pup is in a calm, relaxed state. He’s open to mingling, which means you can feel comfortable letting friends say hi.

2. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing with her body leaning forward. Her ears are erect and angled forward—or have at least perked up if they’re floppy—and her mouth is closed. Her tail might be sticking out horizontally or sticking straight up and wagging slightly.

What it means: “Hark! Who goes there?!” Something caught your pup’s attention and now she’s on high alert, trying to discern whether or not the person, animal, or situation is a threat. She’ll likely stay on guard until she feels safe or becomes distracted.

3. What you’ll see: Your dog is standing, leaning slightly forward. His body and legs are tense, and his hackles—those hairs along his back and neck—are raised. His tail is stiff and twitching, not swooping playfully. His mouth is open, teeth are exposed, and he may be snarling, snapping, or barking excessively.

What it means: “Don’t mess with me!” This dog is asserting his social dominance and letting others know that he might attack if they don’t defer accordingly. A dog in this stance could be either offensively aggressive or defensively aggressive. If you encounter a dog in this state, play it safe and back away slowly without making eye contact.

4. What you’ll see: As another dog approaches, your dog lies down on his back with his tail tucked in between his legs. His paws are tucked in too, his ears are flat, and he isn’t making direct eye contact with the other dog standing over him.

What it means: “I come in peace!” Your pooch is displaying signs of submission to a more dominant dog, conveying total surrender to avoid physical confrontation. Other, less obvious, signs of submission include ears that are flattened back against the head, an avoidance of eye contact, a tongue flick, and bared teeth. Yup—a dog might bare his teeth while still being submissive, but they’ll likely be clenched together, the lips opened horizontally rather than curled up to show the front canines. A submissive dog will also slink backward or inward rather than forward, which would indicate more aggressive behavior.

5. What you’ll see: Your dog is crouching with her back hunched, tail tucked, and the corner of her mouth pulled back with lips slightly curled. Her shoulders, or hackles, are raised and her ears are flattened. She’s avoiding eye contact.

What it means: “I’m scared, but will fight you if I have to.” This dog’s fight or flight instincts have been activated. It’s best to keep your distance from a dog in this emotional state because she could attack if she feels cornered.

6. What you’ll see: You’re staring at your dog, holding eye contact. Your dog looks away from you, tentatively looks back, then looks away again. After some time, he licks his chops and yawns.

What it means: “I don’t know what’s going on and it’s weirding me out.” Your dog doesn’t know what to make of the situation, but rather than nipping or barking, he’ll stick to behaviors he knows are OK, like yawning, licking his chops, or shaking as if he’s wet. You’ll want to intervene by removing whatever it is causing him discomfort—such as an overly grabby child—and giving him some space to relax.

7. What you’ll see: Your dog has her front paws bent and lowered onto the ground with her rear in the air. Her body is relaxed, loose, and wiggly, and her tail is up and wagging from side to side. She might also let out a high-pitched or impatient bark.

What it means: “What’s the hold up? Let’s play!” This classic stance, known to dog trainers and behaviorists as “the play bow,” is a sign she’s ready to let the good times roll. Get ready for a round of fetch or tug of war, or for a good long outing at the dog park.

8. What you’ll see: You’ve just gotten home from work and your dog rushes over. He can’t stop wiggling his backside, and he may even lower himself into a giant stretch, like he’s doing yoga.

What it means: “OhmygoshImsohappytoseeyou I love you so much you’re my best friend foreverandeverandever!!!!” This one’s easy: Your pup is overjoyed his BFF is back. That big stretch is something dogs don’t pull out for just anyone; they save that for the people they truly love. Show him you feel the same way with a good belly rub and a handful of his favorite treats.

The best way to say “I love you” in dog? A monthly subscription to BarkBox. Your favorite pup will get a package filled with treats, toys, and other good stuff (and in return, you’ll probably get lots of sloppy kisses). Visit BarkBox to learn more.

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