You’ve had enough of the constant news. I know. I’m right there with you. Everything seems to be bad and getting worse. You’re sad and angry and deep down you’re even sort of scared. You’ve just read that the American dream is a myth and that certain lesser-known nations are threatening to arm wrestle anyone who comes near with their new nuclear muscles. You feel like whimpering in the corner and sucking on the ends of your sweater sleeves.
You know how every once in a while you have to shut down your phone and let all the applications and whathaveyous go back to reset? You might even need to do a total factory reset. It happens.
Sometimes, you need to do that with your brain. A walk in the woods might be the answer, or hunkering down with a good novel, or my favorite - kayaking on a gentle and beautiful and quiet stream.
But there is another way to reset your mind that won’t even take you away from your computer. Move your cursor over to a sleek, smart website called Atlas Obscura and hang out there for a little while. You'll learn things, interesting things. You'll smile, even laugh maybe. Or cry. You might cry. But what you won't do is think about the news.
Today, here on "I Like It," I am recommending a website of alternate and interesting facts about our world, our universe and the people who live here with us. It’s not one of those ad-heavy sites which appeal to our lower natures with stories about "celebrity plastic surgery mishaps" or “best clothing malfunctions.” No. Atlas Obscura is a serious place and a marvelous place, a place where you can lose yourself in strange little known facts as you click from one link to the next. And soon you’re lost and the real world out there is forgotten.
Do you know why people in the early 2000s starting painting the interiors of their homes beige, beige, and nothing but beige? Read about it here.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mystery writer but I have long been intrigued by Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum which is described as "America's most famous museum of medical oddities, and home to the remains of Einstein's Brain.”
The pictures at that site are worth the price of admission. But, it's more than pictures. You'll also learn about the strange and convoluted history behind the museum, and why it’s even there. It's still on my bucket list to visit, and now even more so.
I would maintain that Atlas Obscura, itself is like its own Mütter Museum
Do you like ghost towns? The site abounds with pictures and stories.
How about ghosts themselves? Again, take your pick.
How about a house made entirely of bottles? Put that in the Atlas Obscura search engine an you'll come up with a long list. Seems lots of people are building out of bottles these days.
Here’s one I visited back when we lived in western Canada See - I’m not the only one who can come up with alternative facts and interesting places to visit. And that's what the site gets you doing, thinking about all the creative people and oddities in the world, and the fun places that you have traveled to.
So, despite all the bad news, I can report that there are still dreamers and inventors, creators and poets. There are joys and oddities and fascinating histories. Animals? Looking for something other than your standard zoo animals? How about the practically impossible-to-kill microscopic 'water bears' Yes. There is such a thing. The photos alone are worth the trip to the site.
Ever wonder why actors in old time movies seem to talk so differently than we do? Well, this is also explained is here, too. It offers quite a fascinating look into what we thought was important and upscale back then.
Oh, and did you know that the Mall of America is looking for a Writer in residence? Ah, there’s a job I could apply for. Hmmm.
Our world is indeed a wonderful place, full of nature and wonderments and good people who invent and create all sorts of machines and poetry and books and libraries and scientists and animals. Head on over to Atlas Obscura for a mind feast.
NEXT TIME - Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris of Chocolat fame.