29 Weird Museums from Mental Floss

Mental Floss had a video called 29 Weird Museums Preserving Our History. It’s not subtitled, only museum names and cities are printed on the screen, and there’s no way to get additional information. So, being a museum person these days, I found their websites and made a list.

  • Kansas Barbed Wire Museum – LaCrosse, Kansas
    • Part of the Rush County Historical Society.
  • The Spam Museum – Austin, Minnesota
    • “Pack the family car for a meat-packed day of fun!”
  • Museum of Bad Art – Somerville, Massachusetts
    • I’d love to know how you curate something like this.
  • National Museum of Funeral History – Houston, Texas
    • Check out the fantasy coffins from Ghana.
  • Burlingame Museum of PEZ Memorabilia – Burlingame, California
    • Also home to the Classic Toy Museum and the Banned Toy Museum.
  • Mütter Museum – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Home of the famous Soap Lady.
  • Museum of Questionable Medical Devices – Minneapolis, Minnesota
    • Closed, but the website lives on, and some artifacts have been transferred elsewhere.
  • Leila’s Hair Museum – Independence, Missouri
    • Echoes of the Victorian era in museums, when the collection itself took precedence over interpretation.
  • Vent Haven Museum – Fort Mitchell, Kentucky
    • The world’s only museum dedicated to ventriloquists and their dummies.
  • Icelandic Phallological Museum – Reykjavik, Iceland
    • They have a list of Honorary Members. I snickered.
  • Washington Banana Museum – Auburn, Washington
    • The website has lots of pictures but doesn’t tell me why bananas are important.
  • Giant Shoe Museum – Seattle, Washington
    • I don’t understand why this wasn’t part of the AAM conference last month.
  • Meguro Parasitological Museum – Tokyo, Japan
    • They seem to actually do a lot of research. I wonder if I can order a phone strap from overseas.
  • Shin-Yokohama Raumen Museum – Yokohama, Japan
    • It’s really mostly a store and food court area. There’s also the nearby Cup Noodle Museum.
  • Burnt Food Museum – Arlington, Massachusetts
    • Apparently you can burn lemons.
  • International Museum of Towing and Recovery – Chattanooga, Tennessee
    • I am both too impressed and too perplexed to comment.
  • Museum of Clean – Pocatello, Idaho
    • Don’t miss the chimney sweep dress-up photo opportunity!
  • American Sign Museum – Cincinnati, Ohio
    • The name kind of throws me off because the word after “American Sign” in my experience is usually “Language.”
  • Museum of Broken Relationships – Zagreb, Croatia
    • It’s really not a bad idea, artists come up with some neat stuff. It’s really about the human story.
  • Beer Can Museum – East Taunton, Massachusetts
    • Aha. The website explains that the IMLS, a government agency, considers this type of museum a “collection of curiosities” and not a museum proper.
  • National Mustard Museum – Middleton, Wisconsin
    • They sure do keep their webpage updated – the current site says “Dads Love Mustard” which is apparently tied into Father’s Day last Sunday.
  • Spinning Top Museum – Burlington, Wisconsin
    • Now with added yo-yos!
  • Pencil Museum – Keswick, England
    • Apparently factories in the area have been making pencils since 1832.
  • Lock Museum of America – Terryville, Connecticut
    • But it’s not the only lock museum. Not even in the US.
  • The Lamp Museum – Bruges, Belgium
    • The website is only in Dutch or French, but I gathered that they are a lamp museum.
  • Sulabh International Museum of Toilets – New Delhi, India
    • I find it interesting that a museum dedicated to sanitation is in a country where large areas are unsanitary.
  • Bigfoot Discovery Museum – Felton, California
    • “Attract & edutain the public with the facts about mystery primates around the world.” Edutain, folks.
  • Gelato Museum – Carpigiani, Italy
    • They have a workshop that allows you to explore the emotions you feel while eating gelato.
  • Kuching Cat Museum – Kuching, Malaysia
    • If I ever go to Malaysia, this will be my first stop.

Nakagin Capsule AirBnB

There’s an AirBnB listing for the Nakagin Capsule Tower.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Nakagin Capsule Tower is in Tokyo, it was built in 1972, and it looks like this:

Nakagin Capsule Tower, outside view

Nakagin Capsule Tower

It’s an example of modular construction, like Habitat 67 in Montreal, and unlike the Contemporary Hotel at Disney World, it really was designed to just pop the capsules off when they needed replacement. But none of the Nakagin capsules ever have been replaced. Not that they’re much to look at, really. Each capsule (note: these are not the same as capsule hotels, you can stand up in these) is about 100 sq ft, has an airplane-style bathroom, and boasts space-saving furniture, all in that retro ’70s vibe. Check out the sample room:

Nakagin Capsule Tower, inside view of model room

Nakagin Sample Room

But of course you can’t just walk into Nakagin and say ただいま! (“I’m home!”) because you don’t live there. Even though only 30 of the 140 capsules are actually occupied, it’s a private building. Which is why I’m so into this AirBnB listing that I made a whole post about it: I want to stay here! Even though this capsule’s shower doesn’t have hot water (hey, at least there is a toilet) and you have to sleep on an airbed, I would totally stay here. Because…it’s normally inaccessible architectural history! How could you not want to stay here? I would even just go for the novelty and then sleep somewhere else if I had to. This is totally the coolest place in Tokyo on AirBnB, and that’s even considering the apartment in Sumida-ku with an awesome view of the Asahi Beer Hall‘s Golden Flame.

For more interesting living accommodations in Tokyo, check out the geki-sema share houses.

Speech as a Job Requirement

I’ve been posting a lot on Facebook lately, and I didn’t want to overdo it there, so I figured I’d post here and let my most recent post there sit for a bit. Anyway, I found a job listing for a full time dock hand at the Washington Sailing Marina. Standard job requirements for a dock hand, of course. Working outside, must immerse hands in water, CPR certification, help customers fuel their boats, you know. And then this:

Speech recognition and clarity, including the ability to understand the speech of customers and co-workers and the ability to speak clearly so that you can be understood by customers and co-workers in English.

Well that’s awfully specific, isn’t it? Why is “speech recognition and clarity” such an important part of the job? Deaf people, whether they can lipread and speak or not, can do customer-facing jobs just fine. Even in an environment where people might call out to one another regularly, the job can be adapted for a deaf person. This requirement is effectively saying “deaf people need not apply,” except for those who function as hearing – and let’s be honest, who does, 100% of the time? Even with a cochlear implant you might miss things occasionally. I’m not at all sure this requirement is fair or in line with the ADA…

Can Spam Hijack Old Comments?


Just happened across some comments on an old post that all seemed legit, but had spam-like names and links and emails. What is the likelihood those comments were by actual people, then altered to have spam-presenting links? Is that a known way of hijacking WordPress? I’ve just upgraded from 3.7.1 to 3.8.1, too.

ID1: Ethnicity/Religion

According to the Washington Post, Jewish people are now identifying as more cultural, less religious. I guess you could say that describes me a little better, but not really.

I am Jewish by ethnicity. I cannot be anything else. I have traced my family to a town called “Volkovisk,” which is apparently in Belarus, but the Ellis Island records don’t specify a country, and anyway, we’re not “White Russians” – we’re Jewish. I don’t know anything about my father’s side of the family other than that they were also Jewish, so I am 100% ethnically Jewish. I cannot be Polish (though I said I was growing up, because I thought I was), I cannot be Russian or Belarusian. I am Jewish. (Note that this is not the late 1800s, and although I am genetically related to other Jewish people, “Jewish” is not a race – I tick white on forms, I pass as white, and I am white. I am white by race, but I am Jewish by ethnicity.)

But I am not Jewish by religion. I suppose I was for the first few years of my life, but I was raised Unitarian Universalist. Now I am an atheist, and somewhat aspiritual and areligious. I just have no interest in religion, really. Plenty of UUs are also atheist, but I am not even UU anymore. At any rate, I am certainly not Jewish by religion, and was never raised as such. I have been known to celebrate Hanukkah (but also the bigger December holiday), and I love charoset and matzo, but that’s where my celebration of Jewish holidays ends.

Nobody needs to know this stuff but me, but given the Washington Post article, I had been thinking about it, and I wanted to write it down. For more on the “who is a Jew” stuff, see Judaism 101.

Back to Blogging

I deactivated my blog after I got back from Japan because I was applying for some jobs. I’m finally all settled with that situation, so I decided to reactivate it. There are a few things I’ve been wanting to write about in a longer form than social media allows for, so it felt like it was time to reactivate this. I don’t think anybody reads it anymore, but it’s still my little place on the web to write things, at least for now.

I decided to change the theme, too – as much as I loved the Japan theme, I’m not there anymore. I don’t know that I love this new theme so much, though it does have some interesting Tumblr-like post type options. We’ll see how the design goes, too.

Before and After

As I board the plane for DC (assuming I have timed the scheduled post right), here’s a picture of me from late March 2012, and mid-March 2013. It’s almost embarrassing to show the first part, I think I look better in the second. Funny that I ended up wearing nearly the same thing both times, though! Thanks to my boss for putting these two together.

Photo shows me in March 2012 and March 2013; I have lost a good bit of weight and am smiling more in the second picture.

One More Night

I haven’t been able to go out of my apartment today. I was going to go to a cat cafe one more time, but when I went out to go to 7-11, I wanted to cry. This may be the last time I ever see this corner of Tokyo, where I have lived for the past 13 months. So I decided to just stay home, and keep my ¥500 off loyalty card as a souvenir. Of course, this makes the day quite long – I woke up at 10am for the inspection guy, and now it’s just past 6pm and I still have forever until it’s time to go (tomorrow at noon). But doing anything outside tugs at my heartstrings too much, so I am staying home.

I’ve lived in Tokyo for 13 months now. Trying to reflect on that time jams up the cogs of my brain. My apartment is clean (although the inspection guy told me to throw away the hangers, but only the hangers, and barely looked at anything else…?), my bags are packed. I’m not sure what to do with my final trash and recycling, because neither of those get picked up on Mondays…I’ll have to figure that out. But you see, I’m talking about logistics…I don’t know how I feel.

Of course, I’ll come back to Japan, it’s become too much a part of my life to never return. My wife wants to see Kyoto and Nara, and I can’t wait to take her there someday. So I’ll be back…but not to live. At least, not that I can foresee now. But I think I got the expat bug out of my system. I always wanted to live somewhere other than Washington DC, and I have certainly had my fill. I’m ready to go home. I’m not sure I’m ready to leave.

I had to throw so many things away. Nobody took anything I put in a box marked ¥0, apparently there is just not much of a “donation culture” here. So I put it all out with the burnable trash, and fortunately they took it all, instead of leaving the non-burnables behind. I did sell my toaster to a recycle shop for ¥500, about 1/6th of what I paid for it.

I can’t even think about the friends I’m leaving behind. I hardly had any friends for the first six months or so, but once I made friends, I really enjoyed spending time with them. Some have promised to come visit in the US, but then again, some friends from home promised to visit me here, and only one actually did. I am genuinely glad for Facebook, which will help me keep connected with friends in Japan, as it has kept me connected back home for this past year.

Let’s do a rundown:

Will miss: Reliable trains, convenience stores, cat products everywhere, kawaii everything, Engrish, cherry blossoms, vending machines (that are everywhere and sell everything), the Sky Tree watching me everywhere I go, accurate timed redelivery of packages, seasonal flavors, city life and walking everywhere, small earthquakes.

Won’t miss: My tiny kitchen and inability to cook in it, my tiny bathroom and low-water toilet, getting run over by people riding bikes on sidewalks, holier-than-thou fellow foreigners, being asked my favorite Japanese food and if I can use chopsticks, boring bread, shared internet connection (frequently making video chat/streaming/calls impossible), worrying about the last train, my own illiteracy, paying for laundry, sleeping alone every night.

To be expanded…

Photos from February

So I did end up traveling all over northern Japan in February! Here are my photos.

First, some good ones from Sapporo. You can see the rest here.

Hokutosei Symbol
Hokutosei, overnight train from Ueno to Sapporo
Daily Ice Cutout
Sapporo Snow Festival, holding an ice carving

Next we go to Sendai! See the rest of the photos here.

ARC Observatory View
Looking toward the Port of Sendai from ARC Observatory
In Hotel Room
In my hotel room overlooking Sendai Station

And the final trip of February was to Nagano! The rest of the photos can be seen here.

Monkey Pose
Posing with snow monkeys
Zenkoji Temple