CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
This May Surprise You

Today — December 8, 2016 (permalink)

You've seen those stunt checks for charity, but here's the "largest real check cashed by [a] Los Angeles bank," from Popular Mechanics, 1922.
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Yesterday — December 7, 2016 (permalink)

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Did you know that "dumb blondes" extend into the vegetable kingdom?  We find our proof in Tilton's Annual Illustrated Catalogue of Seeds, 1893.
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December 6, 2016 (permalink)

"Disinfecting shower bath given theater audience."  From Popular Mechanics, 1919. 
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December 3, 2016 (permalink)

A Ouija board works best when the earth is flat.  We find our proof in "The Ouija Board" in The Essential Daryl Hine.  For other long-forgotten facts about Ouija boards, see The Care and Feeding of a Spirit Board.
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December 2, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a surprise (date uncertain).
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December 1, 2016 (permalink)

Did you ever wonder what gave snow its sparkle?  Here's a spoiler from Catalogue of Sunday School Supplies for Christmas, 1897.

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November 30, 2016 (permalink)

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Looking Ahead (1892) is not by the author of Looking Backward.
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November 27, 2016 (permalink)

A stone amulet develops in stages, much like a fetus, as we see in Ancient Civilations of Mexico and Central America, 1917.
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November 26, 2016 (permalink)

Did you know that National Cake Day started out as an entire month?  The text at the top of this piece reads, "Cake Month - ain't it ridik'lus?"  By W. Bartholomew, 1861.
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November 23, 2016 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to learn that you'll be even more productive if you grab a healthful lunch outside your office's four walls, followed by a 10-minute invigorating walk." —Seven Disciplines of a Leader

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November 22, 2016 (permalink)

Fire falls 3,700 feet from Glacier Point, Yosemite.  From Popular Mechanics, 1918.
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From The London Magazine, 1902.  The text reads, "I haven't any name.  I am an irresposible nonentity.  I am a spectre, and spectres don't have names.  I don't exist.  You think you see me, but you don't, for I am dead, and I can prove it to you.  Do you want me to do it?"
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November 19, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard Paris called the "City of Light," but even after the Enlightenment, its streets were impenetrably dark.  "Paris is a city of darkness."  From Popular Mechanics, 1918.
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November 17, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard that money doesn't grow on trees.  We learn the surprising reason why in Where the Money Grows by Garet Garrett, 1911.  On Wall Street there is a "hoodoo tree" whose evil shadow deprives one of the money-making gift.

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November 16, 2016 (permalink)

"Though it may surprise you, the richest deposits on our planet lie just a few blocks from your house.  They rest in your local cemetery or graveyard.  Buried beneath the soil within the walls of those sacred grounds are dreams that never came to pass, songs that were never sung, books that were never written, paintings that never filled a canvas, ideas that were never shared, visions that never became reality, inventions that were never designed, plans that never went beyond the drawing board of the mind and purposes that were never fulfilled." —Dr. Myles Munroe, qtd. in Matriculate To Your Perfect Degree Course

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A period is typically a circle, but a "high egg price period" is an irregular polygon.  From Illinois Agricultural Association Record, 1949.
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November 15, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard that carrier pigeons can travel for 10 hours without rest, but did you know how?  From Popular Mechanics, 1918.
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November 13, 2016 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to know this, but Freud's work can be (and is) applied day in and day out in modern counseling. (If this surprises you, it could indicate that you have not been taught Freud well.)" —Person-Centered Approaches for Counselors


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Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.