4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today



4 Ancient Cooking Devices Still Used Today

In our world of pressure cookers, smart coffee mugs, and air fryers, it’s clear that cooking technology has come a long way over the years. But then, you take a look back at how ancient civilizations cooked and you realize that, despite our modern technology, we’re still using many of the same strategies and tools that were used back in the day. In particular, these four ancient cooking devices have stood the test of time in our modern era.

Clay Cooking Pots

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This one’s more of a modern take on an old idea.

In ancient Greece, a common cooking method was to place prepared meats and vegetables in tightly-sealed ceramic pots, which were often buried in the ground underneath hot coals. The concoction would be left to cook for several hours before being served—a “low and slow” method that bears a striking similarity to one of the modern era’s favorite cooking methods: slow cooking.

It’s not hard to see the resemblance. Many slow cookers have inserts made from ceramic, porcelain, or stone, and they’re fitted with snug lids that keep the heat locked in. And rather than heating over the fire, the use of coals allowed the ingredients to cook slowly and simmer over time until they reached tender, tangy perfection—just as modern slow cookers do. And while we’ve adapted the ancient device to fit our modern sensibilities, the fundamental concept is the same.

Mortar and Pestle

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The mortar and pestle has to be one of the oldest cooking tools in recorded history, with ancient specimens found as far back as 35,000 B.C. It’s a simple device usually made from stone, bronze, ceramic, or wood, with only two components: a small bowl and a club-like tool with a rounded edge.

Most of us are familiar with how it works. The mortar and pestle was (and still is) used for grinding up spices, herbs, and seasonings, though it also saw plenty of use in medical settings. In fact, the mortar and pestle may be one of the few ancient cooking tools that modern-day chefs use exactly as it was intended. The grinding action is perfect for preparing raw herbs and hard spices in ways that knives and other cooking tools can’t manage, and given that we’re still using it thousands of years after its invention, it’s clear that it still has value in the modern era.


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Best known as our go-to tool for straining cooked noodles, sauces, and vegetables, the humble colander has a long history on the world stage. Colanders from ancient Rome and ancient Egypt sit in museums as historical artifacts, and historians believe that the straining device had a rich history of use across these cultures.

Modern colanders tend to be made from wire, plastic, or steel, but in the olden days, colanders were often cast from bronze—meaning they were reserved for the wealthy. More evidence of this comes from reports suggesting that colanders may have been used to strain and prepare wine, a luxury typically afforded to the rich.

Deep Fryer

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Yes, although fried foods have become inexorably tied to American culture, deep frying as a practice has been around for thousands of years. The practice of frying foods in oil dates back to ancient Greece and Rome, though other countries — such as Egypt and Japan — also have a substantial history of frying. Of course, they didn’t have the fryer technology we take for granted today, which is probably a good thing. Fried foods can’t be considered healthy by any stretch of the imagination, and while ancient cultures used to enjoy fried options in (relative) moderation, our modern society goes all out, frying anything and everything we can find.

Time-Tested Cooking Classics

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New cooking technology is great, but as this list shows, you just can’t beat the classics. Many of the basic cooking tools we use every day—knives, pots, ovens, skillets—have all been used for years by cultures around the world. And while our air poppers and pressure cookers have their uses, ancient cultures seemed to do just fine without them.

Why did pirates wear eye patches?



Why did pirates wear eye patches?

Whenever we picture the stereotypical pirate, he’s usually wearing a long coat or striped shirt, is bearing a cutlass, and is sporting an eye patch. While the first two are easily explained as being appropriate for the period, the eye patch is an anomaly that seems more like a modern add-on to give the customary costume a unique touch.

The truth is, however, that the eye patch was part of pirate garb, but that leaves the question as to why. It’s unlikely that so many pirates lost an eye to warrant it becoming synonymous with piracy. While it’s probable that many pirates were covering a damaged eye, there is another plausible reason that may explain why the eye patch was so prevalent out at sea.

The popularity of patches

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Buy any Halloween pirate costume and there is a very good chance an eye patch is going to be included. While it’s a staple of the iconic getup, back in the days of piracy, the eye patch was believed to have had a clear purpose.

Living with a bounty on your head and enemies at every turn, pirates needed to be ready for anything. Whether day or night, if a rival ship came too close or they happened upon a settlement worth sacking, pirates had to be ready. Come nightfall, adjusting to the shift from light to dark was essential to pillaging and plundering. To prevent the night from impeding their vision, pirates allegedly used eye patches so that they would always have one eye well-adjusted to the dark.

The importance of night vision

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According to “Scientific American,” it can take the human eye up to 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness. For pirates, those 30 minutes could be the difference between being left on the ocean floor and getting a jump on incoming opposing flags.

Piracy doesn’t follow a set clock, and ships were constantly moving through the night. In the event of a confrontation, it was vital that pirates could see. On starless and moonless nights, the sea could be pitch-black. Pirates who kept one eye in the dark had an advantage over those who didn’t.

Is it plausible?

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The issue determining whether or not this reasoning is accurate is that there are no historical records to offer confirmation. There may be no evidence or pirate artifacts that support this theory, but there are real-world applications that at least give reason to believe this theory.

The team behind the “MythBusters” TV show put this idea to the test in their 2007 pirate special. Known for taking the necessary steps to create a controlled environment and mimic the original conditions, the team set up a dark room and sent in light-adjusted eyes. In the dark maze, they stumbled and had a difficult time making it to the exit.

A second dark room served as a maze for eyes that were covered for 30 minutes. This room was completed in significantly less time.

A practice beyond piracy

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To further support the notion that eye patches were used to make navigating the night easier is the fact that even the FAA recommends pilots work on their night vision. Part of the FAA Flying Handbook discusses best practices to train one’s eyes, such as avoiding sunglasses after sunset. According to the FAA, “a pilot should close one eye when using a light to preserve some degree of night vision.”

While there is a relatively long gap between the age of piracy and today, the concept remains the same. With one eye always in the dark, there is a greater chance of being able to see better regardless of how dark it might be. There may not be any solid historical evidence to support this claim, but it’s a plausible answer that gives a reason for one of life’s untold mysteries.

A historical mystery

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As cool as we may think eye patches and pirates are, it’s not enough to assume that any inference of why pirates wore them is true. While the reasoning may make sense, until some historical document or journal clearly states the purpose of eye patches, the answer will forever be an assumption.

Considering how dangerous the life of piracy was, the argument of damaged or missing eyes will always be in the shadows, as if to cast doubt on the idea that it was all about seeing in the dark.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Famous Statues



5 Things You Didn’t Know About Famous Statues

You know the statues, but do you know much about them? Usually, we just take a statue for face value – as a piece of art. That’s just as true for the famous statues on this list. Let’s jump right into it. Here are five things (and more) that you didn’t know about famous statues.

The Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial

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The statue honoring President Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial was unveiled in 1922, when the memorial was completed. The building itself was constructed from 1914 to 1922. The statue, made by Daniel Chester French, weighs 170 tons and is composed of 28 blocks of white Georgia marble. Urban legend has it that the artist sculpted Lincoln’s hands to form the “A” and “L” in American Sign Language, a nod to his legislation creating a university for the deaf.

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo

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The famed Venus de Milo ancient Greek statue, housed at the Louvre in Paris, is also made of marble, but crafted sometime between 130 and 100 BCE. It is believed to depict Aphrodite and named after the Greek island of Milos, where it was found. The statue’s arms are missing, for unknown reasons. The mystery shrouding the statue is part of its fame and charm, symbolizing all of ancient Greece.

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

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The Little Mermaid is a fascinating icon of Copenhagen, Denmark, unveiled in 1913 and a major attraction there ever since. What might be most striking is the statue’s history with vandalism. It’s been damaged many times and is often in need of restoration. In 1964, the head was sawed off and stolen by political activists. It was never recovered and a new one was made to replace it. In 1984, the arm was cut off but returned two days after it was stolen. There was a failed attempt in 1990 to cut off the head, leaving a gash in the statue. Continuing the awful history: another decapitation in 1998 (the head, this time, was returned anonymously). It was also knocked off its base in 2003 by explosives. Paint and other vandalism have occurred numerous times over the years. Rough history.

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Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

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Located on Corcovado, a mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue overlooks the city. It was created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa and French engineer Albert Caquot. It weighs 635 metric tons and is a symbol of Christianity throughout the world. So impressive, that you may not know it was listed as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, along with Chichen Itza, the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Petra, the Taj Mahal, and Colosseum.

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

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Quite arguably the most famous statue in the world, it was a gift from France given to the United States in 1886 that still welcomes travelers into New York Harbor, holding a torch and tablet with July 4, 1776 inscribed on it – the date of the country’s independence. The seven spikes on the Statue of Liberty’s crown represent the seven continents of the world, indicating the universal concept of liberty. Formerly placed on New York’s Bedloe Island, it’s now called Liberty Island. But the main thing you didn’t know about the Statue of Liberty is her full name: Liberty Enlightening the World (or, in French, La Liberte eclairant le monde).

6 Oldest Theaters in the World



6 Oldest Theaters in the World

As ancient civilizations developed, citizens grew an appetite for different forms of entertainment. Along came theater, with its many forms written to please audiences. Today, theater buffs will love learning more about the first constructions where comedies, tragedies and concerts took place. All of them are popular attractions in their own corners of the world. These are the oldest theaters in the world.

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

The Roman Theater of Orange, France

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Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1981, the Roman Theater of Orange dates back to the 1st century. It sits near the French city of Avignon, and is so well preserved that people today still attend the Chorégies festival during the summers.

Originating in 1869, Chorégies is the oldest festival in France today. The acoustic wall of the theater, which is completely intact, is the key that allows the opera and lyrical theater performances to take place with an impeccable sound.

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

The Theater of Mérida, Spain

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Built between the years 15-16 B.C.E., the Theater of Mérida was sponsored by Consul Marcus Agrippa. It could seat up to 6,000 spectators, who were divided into their social rank. Its original architecture is considered classical Roman, but later restorations introduced a melange of design and decoration.

Considered one of Spain’s (many) gems, this theater is currently used in an annual winter festival.

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

The Theater of Taormina, Italy

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The Taormina Theater, also known as the Graeco-Roman Theater of Taormina, is located in the eastern part of Sicily. It is constructed in a particularly privileged area, as visitors can see the Etna Volcano and the Mediterranean Sea while walking around the top of the theater.

Built in the 2nd century B.C.E., the theater was constructed by the Greeks and later extended by the Romans. Currently, it hosts the Taormina Arte festival every year.

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The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

The Theater of Epidaurus, Greece

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This Greek theater is said to have the best acoustics in the world. In fact, tour guides famously have their groups dispersed throughout the theater and show them that no matter where they are standing, they will hear a match drop on the floor on stage.

Located near the town of Ligurio, the Theater of Epidaurus rests in the middle of a pine forest. It was designed by Polykleitos the Younger in the 4th century B.C.E. Archaeologists believe that he made use of the natural unevenness of the land to build it.

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

The Theater at Delphi, Greece

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Further up along the hill where we can find the Temple of Apollo, sits the beautiful Delphi Theater. Its position at the top grants spectacular views of an entire valley.

The theater was built in the 4th century B.C.E. with limestone from Mount Parnassus. Archaeologists estimate that its 35 rows held around five thousand spectators who enjoyed plays, poetry readings, musical events and various festivals that were carried out periodically in Delphi.

History also shows us that this theater was remodeled several times. The seats in the lower rows were built during the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

The Theater of Dionysus, Greece

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The Theater of Dionysus was the largest construction of its kind in ancient Greece. It is located in the northern part of the Acropolis of Athens and dedicated to Dionysus, god of the wine and theater. In fact, it was tradition for worshipers to pray to him in a manner that attracted spectators. Later, these rituals became the classic tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.

Even though this theater was built in the 5th century B.C.E., records show that it carried on being a popular venue for many centuries. In fact, around the year 407, the performance time was extended to about six hours and the entry fees were deemed expensive.

5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth



5 Lies You Were Taught About the Earth

When it comes to our home planet, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. For instance, in spite of what you may have heard in history or science class, it’s not, in fact, possible to see the Great Wall of China from outer space.

And that’s not the only common misconception about Earth. Here are some of the biggest lies you were probably taught about Earth.

Columbus Discovered That the Earth Is Round

An old model ship
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You’ve probably heard the famous “in fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue” poem. As the legend goes, against all odds, Christopher Columbus headed out on a voyage to East Asia by heading west instead of east from Europe. The monarchy (who funded the trip) was worried that Columbus would never return because, of course, Earth was a big flat pancake and he might fall off.

Even by the 1400s, flat Earth theories had already been debunked, and the orb shape was already accepted after being proposed by Pythagoras thousands of years before. In fact, the voyage was plotted out based on the fact that the Earth was round! Coming upon America was a surprise, however.

You Can See The Great Wall of China From Space

The Great Wall of China
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It makes for a great story: Way up from outer space, astronauts can gaze upon the Great Wall of China. We hate to tell you, this not true.

While the wall may be great, according to NASA, it’s less visible than you might think from outer space. In fact, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei reported that he wasn’t able to see the structure from space. Other astronauts have reported that it’s barely visible with a telephoto lens but not to the naked eye.

However, there’s still some good news for astro-followers: Certain landmarks, like cities and major reservoirs, are visible from space.

Earth Is Closer to The Sun in Summer

The sun rising above Earth in outer space
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It seems like sound logic: it’s hotter in the summer because the Earth is closer to the sun at that time of year, right? Sorry, but no.

Consider this. If that were the case, how could it be summer in the southern hemisphere at the same time it’s winter in the northern hemisphere?

While it’s a little harder to wrap your mind around, it’s all based on the angle of the Earth. The Earth tilts, and its axis can vary throughout the course of its cycle. This is what causes the difference in seasons. A greater tilt means hotter summers and colder winters.

A Compass Always Points Due North

A compass sitting on a rock
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If you trust movies and TV, then you’re apt to think that a compass will always point due north. However, this isn’t quite the case. A compass points to the magnetic north. This is an important distinction because the magnetic pole changes based on activity in the Earth’s core.

That’s right: the magnetic pole that attracts all compasses is a moving target. It has been moving rapidly in recent years — as much as 30 or more miles per year. So be sure to take your compass reading with a grain of salt!

Deserts Are Always Hot

A desert landscape in Joshua Tree National Park
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While the term “desert” probably makes you think of miles of sand and heat-induced mirages, deserts are not always hot.

A desert is considered any place that receives less than 10 inches of rain per year. This isn’t limited to hot places. For example, many of the polar regions of the world could be considered deserts because they don’t get much precipitation.

Doesn’t it feel good to unearth (get it?) the truth? There are plenty of misconceptions about the planet that we call home. But as time goes on and we learn more, we’re correcting these long-held, so-called “truths.”

The History of Hong Kong in 2 Minutes



The History of Hong Kong in 2 Minutes

The territory of Hong Kong, officially known as the Hong Kong Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, has a fascinating and tumultuous history on the world stage. While we know it today as a global hub of international trade and exotic exports, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, given its divisive history, it’s a bit surprising that it even still exists.

Hong Kong’s Origins

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The Hong Kong we know today is home to over 7.4 million people spread across 426 square miles and stands as the fourth most densely populated region in the world. But getting there was a long road, with its story beginning as far back as BCE 214.

Even then, the Hong Kong island region had been occupied by humans for thousands of years. Early settlers migrated into the region from inland China and used their knowledge of agriculture to begin farming the land. These settlers wouldn’t be independent for long, as the dominant Chinese government—the Qing dynasty—saw the value of the region and integrated the island into the fold. The Hong Kong area would change hands over the years as Chinese dynasties rose and fell, each laying new claim to the territory.

Its value came from its location: Hong Kong was situated at a strategic point between the Pearl River Delta and the South China Sea, making it an ideal port for maritime trading. This defining feature was the key driver of Hong Kong’s development over the years, particularly as the region began to draw international interest.

The Rise of International Trade

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Beginning in the early 1500s, Portuguese and European merchants began trading in Hong Kong, bringing significant prosperity to the region. This prosperity would continue over the next several hundred years, sparked by European interest in Chinese products—spices, silk, tea, and porcelain.

And while the Chinese markets didn’t care as much for European goods, there was one product that caught their attention: Indian opium. European traders funneled so much opium into the area that Hong Kong (and China as a whole) realized that they were facing a full-fledged opioid crisis.

In response, the Emperor sought to snuff out the opium trade altogether by prohibiting the trade of opium and forcing his subordinates to destroy all existing opium stockpiles. This culminated in a complete stop to all foreign trade in 1839, something that didn’t sit well with British merchants.

The Opium Wars

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The British responded to this trade embargo with aggressive military action, resulting in the First Opium War. This conflict raged for three years until the Qing dynasty surrendered, ceding control of Hong Kong to the United Kingdom in 1842.

Under new rule, Hong Kong experienced an economic upturn that greatly improved the region, aided in part by an influx of wealthy Chinese who fled to Hong Kong in the wake of the Taiping Rebellion. Unfortunately, hostilities over the opium trade weren’t resolved, and tensions between the British and the Chinese escalated to the point of a Second Opium War in 1856.

This war lasted four years, ending in another Chinese defeat, which did little to stop the expansion of Hong Kong as a port of international trade. The rapid economic growth brought on by the administrative infrastructure of British rule combined with the influx of wealthy Chinese made Hong Kong a desirable region for international investors, despite its political troubles.

This international interest would set the stage for Hong Kong as a region of great global significance, if it survived that long.

The World at War

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The beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 spelled further trouble for the region.

Although the governor of Hong Kong declared Hong Kong a neutral zone during the war, the Japanese army attacked Hong Kong on December 8, 1941—the same morning as the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a result, Hong Kong was occupied by Japanese forces for nearly four years until the British re-took control in 1945.

Hong Kong’s population suffered during this occupation, but it bounced back thanks to further influxes of those fleeing from the Chinese Civil War and those who fled from the Communist Party takeover of China in 1949. This influx of population would be a crucial part of Hong Kong’s post-war restoration.

Hong Kong’s Growth and Modernization

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In the 1950s, Hong Kong saw tremendous advancements to its infrastructure and public services. While Hong Kong’s production capabilities were limited compared to those of mainland China, Hong Kong’s diverse international population gave it an advantage in the service economy. It wasn’t long before Hong Kong established itself as a global center for shipping, finance, and trade.

But this economic growth did little to ease political tensions in the area that had been growing throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s. In the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, it was decided that Hong Kong would be returned to Chinese control when Britain’s lease ended, triggering a mass emigration of citizens concerned for the future of their civil liberties. In 1997, Hong Kong was officially transferred back to China after 156 years of British rule.

Today, Hong Kong is supposedly an autonomous entity, but there are serious concerns about Hong Kong’s being truly independent from China, as was promised in the transfer. But as we’ve seen, Hong Kong’s history is characterized by political unrest—and against all odds, the territory always seems to endure, no matter what challenges it faces.

The history of the White House



The history of the White House

The White House seems like a building that’s just always been there: as long as there’s been a United States, there’s been a White House. But that’s far from the truth. It had to be built like every other building to ever exist and its story is an interesting slice of American history.

The design

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Pierre Charles L’Enfant, a former soldier on the American side of the Revolution, was the man originally commissioned to design Washington D.C., the Capitol Building and the White House. His designs were far more ostentatious than the city and buildings we have today, with an executive mansion that was supposed to be built on a ridge overlooking the Potomac and at a scale four times the size of the house we have today. His plans never came to fruition, though, because he was fired in February of 1792 after a fight with the commissioning board.

After L’Enfant’s firing, the design of the house was turned into a contest. Irishman James Hoban submitted the winning design, one that was heavily based on Leinster House, the home of the Irish Parliament in Dublin.

Changes and influences

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Things were business as usual in the building until the War of 1812, when the British invasion and successful (at that point in the war) campaign beat American militias and brought the war to the White House’s doorstep. In 1814, the Brits torched the executive mansion, along with the rest of the city. Dolley Madison, James Madison’s First Lady, stayed in the White House up to almost the last minute, outlasting most of the city’s inhabitants, as well as her military guard. Most famously, she’s the one who saved George Washington’s enormous portrait from falling into the hands of the British. After the war, Hoban returned to rebuild the house.

That’s the most impactful event the building’s seen since the Civil War didn’t touch much of DC, despite its proximity to the Confederacy. The rest of the building’s existence has consisted of a handful of presidents and their expansions and renovations. John Quincy Adams added the North and South Porticoes, the Fillmores turned the second floor oval room into a library, and the Arthurs had Louis Tiffany redesign the east, blue, red, and state dining rooms. Taft’s expansion in 1909 created the Oval Office as we know it today, though the room itself was relocated to the southeast corner during FDR’s tenure. Teddy Roosevelt oversaw a major renovation, and it was around the same time that he coined the term “White House.”

The modern White House

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The last major renovation happened under Truman’s administration, with the rebuilding and strengthening of the White House’s foundation. That project saw a huge renovation to the building’s interior as well, and Truman gave a televised tour of the results in 1952. Most presidents and their First Ladies will also do some of their own redecorating to make the place feel more like home. After all, it’s theirs for the next four years. Eight if the public likes them.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba



5 Things You Didn’t Know About Cuba

When many people think about Cuba, their mind goes to rum, cigars and Fidel Castro. But there is so much more to this Caribbean island than that! It is an interesting and exciting place, and it is only within the last five years that U.S. citizens have been able to legally travel there. Here are five things about Cuba that you probably didn’t know.

Christmas Was Once Banned in Cuba

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When The Grinch – ehem, I mean, Fidel Castro – came to power, he went right to work banning things that everyone loves, like Monopoly and, yes, even Christmas. He declared the entire country atheist and abolished Christmas and the paid work holiday that went with it because he wanted people to work on harvesting sugar instead of celebrating and giving gifts. After 30 long, sad years for the people of Cuba, whose population is truly largely a Catholic one, the Pope visited Havana and convinced Castro to reinstate Christmas. Even though it was January at the time, Cuban citizens ran right out to buy the Christmas trees and religious statues they weren’t allowed to have before. It is unclear whether Castro’s heart grew three sizes that day, but it seems unlikely.

Cubans Only Recently Got the Right to Buy a New Car

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If you have ever wondered why Cuba is full of so many classic, 1950s-style cars, the answer might make you a bit sad. Beginning in 1959, Cubans were not allowed to buy a new car, so there were no cars on the streets newer than the 1959 models. In 2013, though, the laws changed, and citizens were able to start buying new cars without getting special permission from the state. The only problem? These cars are marked up by 400 percent, with prices running between $91,000 and $262,000. The average monthly earnings for a citizen of Cuba is equivalent to between 20 and 30 U.S. dollars, making owning a new car an impossible dream for most.

Cuba Once Had a Toilet Paper Shortage

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In 2009, Cuba faced a crisis that no one else wants to think about: a shortage of toilet paper. While this seems a bit preposterous for a country like the U.S., keep in mind that Cuba produces some of its own toilet paper but has to import the rest. In 2009, the country did not have enough natural resources to make its own toilet paper and was also facing an economic crisis. Luckily the country eventually recovered enough to allow people to stock up on this bathroom essential, but it was surely a tough few months.

Cuba Is Home to the Largest Colony of Flamingos

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Cuba is home to many beautiful and rare species of birds, including the bee hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world. The birds stay here because the habitat is both perfect for their needs and located within protected areas. Flamingos are no exception, with the largest colony in the Western Hemisphere nesting in Cuba’s wetlands. In Humedal Rio Maximo-Caguey in particular, nearly 70,000 nesting flamingos have given birth to more than 50,000 chicks. That is one big feathery family!

Hardly Anyone in Cuba Can Access the Internet

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While travelers can usually buy a scratch-off card that allows them to use the internet, as a rule, internet is hard to come by in Cuba. In 2011, a study reported that only around five percent of the population was able to access the worldwide web instead of just a government-created intranet that didn’t let them view anything that their leader didn’t want them to see. It was only in 2008 that Cubans were allowed to start buying computers at all, even if the prices were ridiculously high. The number of internet users has surely increased as technology has advanced, but it is highly likely that our friends in Cuba won’t be reading this article.

8 Most Remote Islands You’ve Never Heard Of



8 Most Remote Islands You’ve Never Heard Of

Ever spin a globe and dream of exploring those tiny isolated dots in the middle of the sea? Maybe you long to go off-grid for a while or dive near some exotic coastline. Here are a few far-off retreats for those willing to trade in a cell signal and some amenities for some captivating travel tales. These are eight of the most remote islands you’ve never heard of.

Heimaey Island

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If Iceland itself isn’t remote enough for your taste, then hop the ferry for a 40-minute ride to Heimaey Island. If your travel plans include witnessing puffins in their natural habitat, then you’re in the right place. The island is home to the largest population of these stunning birds. Puffins are known as the “clowns of the sea” for their amusing antics. Visitors can hike the Eldfell volcano, walk miles of trails or rent bikes to take in the tranquil scenery.

Tromelin Island

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Located 300 miles east of Madagascar, this tiny speck in the Indian Ocean is a bird watchers paradise. The island is a seabird breeding site and known for its abundance of green sea turtles. History buffs will be fascinated with tales of the 1761 slave ship wreckage just off the island’s reef. Landing on the island takes a well-skilled pilot as the airstrip is no more than a dirt path.

Flores Island

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Flores is one of the Azores Islands of Portugal. This isle locale is brimming with stunning lagoons, peaceful creeks and lush green hills. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors with a hike or bike ride before cooling off in one of the island’s natural swimming pools. Local cuisine has a taste all its own, as the volcanic soil and salty sea combine to give the local produce a unique flavor.

Faroe Islands

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Located between Iceland and Norway is a collection of remote isles known as “Europe’s Best Kept Secret.” Faroe Islands are officially part of Denmark but don’t brush up on your Danish just yet. These islanders have their own unique language — safe to assume not found on Rosetta Stone. This landmass is peppered with grassy roof-topped buildings and colorful clapboard houses. There’s no need to sacrifice fine dining as Faroe is home to Kok, a Michelin-starred, 23-seat venue with breathtaking cliffside views. The expert chefs use the sparse ingredients found locally to create their innovative dishes.

Raoul Island

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Raoul Island — halfway between New Zealand and Tonga — is so secluded it’s not even open to the public. Arranging a visit to this remote location is a journey in itself. The only travelers granted access are those chosen to be Raoul Island Rangers. To make the cut, adventurers will spend five days in a remote part of New Zealand participating in a “shakedown.” Those who prove to have what it takes to endure the island’s challenging conditions will spend one year on the island as a ranger. The prize for being one of the chosen few is tackling the island’s overgrown weeds and the promise of some unforgettable snorkeling.


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Known as the Unspoiled Queen of the Caribbean, this St. Maarten neighbor embodies the true meaning of island hospitality. A warm welcome awaits visitors as they set out for world-renowned diving, a hike on the rain-forest trail or relaxing on the sandy beach. Flying in and out of Saba is not for the faint of heart. This tiny island is home to the world’s shortest airstrip, providing an added element of excitement to the adventure.

St. Kilda

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Located in the most remote part of the British Isles is an archipelago only accessible by boat. Adventurers making the 2.5-hour sea journey will be privy to one of the most unique island tales. The last of the inhabitants evacuated the island in 1930 due to the challenges of self-sufficiency. The ruins of the abandoned homes give insight to its early dwellers. Each house is adorned with a plaque providing a detailed account of the home’s last residents and the date they set sail for a more civilized existence.

Tristan da Cunha

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If this list of islands seems intriguing but not quite remote enough for your liking then head to Tristan da Cunha. Located between South Africa and Argentina in the middle of the Atlantic, this secluded spot holds the title of The Most Remote Island in the World. This archipelago is made up of six volcanic islands with Edinburgh of the Seven Seas as its principal settlement. The approximately 267 inhabitants use diesel generators for energy as traditional electricity is not available. Getting to Tristan da Cunha is no easy feat. Those wishing to visit will endure a seven-day ocean voyage aboard a South African vessel for the honor of these travel bragging rights.

4 Crazy Facts About the Yangtze River



4 Crazy Facts About the Yangtze River

From its source in Tibet’s Tanggula Mountains, the Yangtze River (aka Chang Jiang or Ch’ang Chiang) meanders eastward for 3,915 miles across China before emptying out into the East China Sea. It is the world’s third-longest river—behind the Nile (4,132 miles) and Amazon (3,977 miles)—Asia’s longest, and the longest to flow entirely through one country. These facts make the Yangtze River one of the world’s great watercourses and for centuries it has played a key role in Chinese culture. Here are four more interesting facts about the river.

The River Has More Than 700 Tributaries

The River Has More Than 700 Tributaries

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About 8 million gallons of water empties from the river into the East China Sea every second, and the river’s upstream area has a flow of around 70,000 cubic feet per second. Contributing to this water flow are an incredible 700 tributaries, made up of lakes, rivers and streams. The most important of these is the 952-mile long Han River, the Min River and Yalong River. Chao Lake and Shanghai’s Lake Tai also feed the river.

Over 50 Bridges Span the River

Over 50 Bridges Span the River

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The Yangtze once served as geographic border between northern and southern China, and until 1957, there were no permanent bridges. Today, more than 50 bridges and dozens of tunnels provide pedestrian, rail and road connections to the millions of people that cross the water on a daily basis. Among them is Runyang Bridge, which with a 4,890-feet-long central span is in the top five longest suspension bridges in the world. The 1,811-feet-long Chaotianmen Bridge is the world’s longest arch bridge. Before the inauguration of the Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge in 1960, passenger trains had to be disassembled and transported by ferry.

It is Home to the Deepest Gorge in the World

It is Home to the Deepest Gorge in the World

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On its route around the Yunnan region of western China, the river passes unblemished landscapes made up of forested mountains, glaciated peaks, and steep gorges. This area forms part of the UNESCO-listed Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas. Within it is the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, where 13,000-feet-tall mountains and 6,600-feet-high cliffs rise above both sides of the riverbanks. It’s possible to hike to the canyon on a multi-day trekfrom the town of Qiaotou. A 10-mile trail runs the entire length of the gorge and the highest section is among China’s finest hikes.

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350 Fish Species Inhabit the River

350 Fish Species Inhabit the River

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Some of China’s greatest biodiversity exists in the river basin, not least the vast amount of fish native to the waters. There’s Chinese paddlefish, giant Yangtze sturgeon, silver carp, and yellow catfish, among others. The Chinese puffer fish is both one of the world’s most venomous fish and a Chinese delicacy. Also inhabiting the waters are rare and endangered species such as the Chinese alligator, finless dolphin, giant salamander, and giant softshell turtle. The State Council of China has proposed a complete ban on fishing by 2020.