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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As I Was, As I Am
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Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
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100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
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A Fine Line Between...
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
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Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
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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

Yesterday — July 22, 2016 (permalink)

The eye in the pyramid begins life as a polyhedron.  From Alpine Flowers for English Gardens by W. Robinson, 1870.
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July 18, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard of "graduating from PMS" (Menopause and Estrogen: Natural Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy), but did you know you can get an actual degree?
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July 5, 2016 (permalink)

Even a globe has magnetic poles.  A photo from the 1928 National Air Races, Los Angeles.
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You've heard of someone being "bird brained," but here's the exact location of the avian part of the brain (and yes, it's egg-shaped), from Psychology and the School by Edward Herbert Cameron, 1921.
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July 3, 2016 (permalink)

"Airline technology has not gone through any radical changes" (Brian Clegg, Final Frontier: The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe).  Image courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.
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July 1, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard of a palmist.  You've heard of a psalmist.  Here's where they overlap -- a woodcut diagram of the Guidonian hand, a mnemonic used for teaching music, 1492.  
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June 19, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard that a person has a light side and a shadow side.  However, "you must remember that you have two light sides instead of just one" (Popular Science, Sept. 1941).  Our photographic proof is from a 1939 yearbook scanned by Miami University Libraries.
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June 15, 2016 (permalink)

It's all-too-easy to idealize the past, but did you know that before Dec. 31, 1979, every California-grown avocado offered not only a free tree but also someone to talk to?
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June 13, 2016 (permalink)

We call a studious person a "bookworm," but did you know there are bookworms of ignorance, too?  We find our evidence in this illustration by Rocha Vieira, 1920. 
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"It's always breakfast time somwhere."  Colour lithograph after Dorcy for the Chicago National Dairy Council, 1935.
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June 10, 2016 (permalink)

You knew about the Masonic influences in the design of Washington D.C., but did you know the heart of the city is itself a great pyramid?  From Popular Electricity Magazine in Plain English, 1913
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June 8, 2016 (permalink)

"Won't someone press the shutter for me?"  (This demonic camera can't take its own pictures, luckily.)  From Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger.

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June 4, 2016 (permalink)

This "may surprise you: Writing and reading are not natural to human beings." —Political Writing: A Guide to the Essentials


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June 1, 2016 (permalink)

Photo courtesy of Curtis Perry.
"[H]ow nearly the state of grace resembled the state of Idaho." —Marilynne Robinson, Housekeeping
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May 31, 2016 (permalink)

You knew that a hat is scaled to fit the head of the wearer, but here's how it's done.  From Daily Colonist, 1900.
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May 30, 2016 (permalink)

You've seen paisleys with geometric central elements.  These are armed citadels.  Our exemplifying collage shows the stronghold Fort Independence on the paisley Castle Island, Boston Harbor.
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May 19, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard of the four corners of the earth, but there are actually a few more corners than that, as we see in this map from The New Art of Memory by Gregor von Feinaigle, 1813.  Recall that we previously saw how the four corners of the world technically meet at the center.

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May 17, 2016 (permalink)

The great secret of weathervanes is that they alter the direction of the wind they measure (as per the "observer effect" of physics).  Here are two weathervanes with conflicting reports, as photographed by Leslie Jones, date uncertain.  And then here's another photo of disagreeing weathervanes, not that you didn't believe us.  Plus, it's not just weathervanes: flags also flap according to conflicting winds (photo our own).
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May 15, 2016 (permalink)

Pie makers have heard of apple filling and peach filling, but lesser known is that apple and peach fillings are grown in orchards by "apple fillers" and "peach fillers."  All is revealed in The Apple: A Practical Treatise Dealing with the Latest Modern Practices of Apple Culture (1915).
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May 7, 2016 (permalink)

You know that one can hear the ocean in a seashell, but did you know that it's the shore at Atlantic City?  From 1907.
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Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.