Unusual places

What I’m watching, reading..instead of working

Don’t tell me this hasn’t happened to you.

You have stuff to do.  Deadlines.  Work someone will pay you for if you just, you know, do it.

So you pour a cup of coffee and sit down at the computer.

But then, dang, the Internet happens.

Here’s a bit of what got me distracted today.

Air New Zealand posted time-lapse video footage of its first new domestic A320 being built and painted with all black livery.

The paint job has something to do with the All Blacks rugby team, so of course I had to visit that site and then the Small Blacks site as well.

As long as I was visiting the Air New Zealand site, I had to check in on what that wild and crazy furry creature, Rico, was up to. I found this reel of bloopers.

A quick check of email and Twitter sent me off in new directions.

Florida’s Dali Museum was opening in its snazzy new building in St. Petersburg, FL. And as someone who first came upon that museum collection, by accident, when it shared space with a factory in Cleveland, Ohio, I of course had to visit.

While there, I came across this clip of Salvador Dali as a guest on the old TV show, What’s My Line?

Then, of course, it was time to check email and Twitter and catch up on my RSS feed.

A blog post by the folks at the  Smithsonian Air and Space Museum – 5 Cool Things at the Udvar-Hazy Center You May Have Missed – caught my eye because the Udvar-Hazy Center is just down the road Dulles International Airport.

And then I really got tangled up in the web. A comment on the museum blog post mentioned Anita, “the spider from Skylab.”  I didn’t know about Anita so had to follow that thread.

It turns out that Anita and a companion spider, Arabella, were part of an experiment flown on Skylab, a space station launched in May 1973.

According the Smithsonian website:

Scientists and students interested in the growth, development, behavior, and adaptation of organisms in weightlessness provided a variety of biology experiments for flight in the orbital research laboratory. A common Cross spider, “Anita” participated in a web formation experiment suggested by a high school student. The experiment was carried out on the Skylab 3 mission, which lasted 59 days from July 28-September 25, 1973. Astronauts Alan Bean, Jack Lousma, and Owen Garriott carried out the scientific research in space, reported the results, and returned this specimen at the end of their mission. NASA then sent Anita, a companion spider “Arabella,” and the experiment equipment to the Museum.

Anita is on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

Anita Skylab Space Station spider

Arabella is in storage.

Do shrunken heads snore? Sleepovers at museums & attractions

If you’re curious about what happens in museums, zoos, aquariums and offbeat attractions after hours you’re in luck.  For a slide show on Bing Travel – Critter Campouts – I found plenty of places where you can camp with critters, sleep with fishes and dream with dinosaurs.

(Courtesy Georgia Aquarium)

Since then, I’ve found even more. For example, it turns out you and your friends can spend the night at the Titan Missle Museum in Sahuarita, Arizona.

(Courtesy Arizona Aerospace Foundation)

For the Bing Critter Campouts show, I was able to squeeze in 11 sleepover sites.  Some of them are just for kids. A few set aside a few nights for adults-only overnights. But most are open to families, making them an unusual alternative to at least one night in a hotel during a vacation.

Here are just two of my favorites:

Do shrunken heads snore? Do two-headed taxidermy cows moo in their sleep?

Brave souls can find out during a night inside Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Extreme Sleepover at the Times Square Odditorium in New York or at the Bedtime with the Bizarre overnights at Ripley’s outlets in Williamsburg, VA, Gatlinburg, TN, Grand Prairie, TX and several other locations. Make it to morning and you’ll get to take home a “Survivor” certificate.

And on June 30th, after the San Francisco Giants play the LA Dodgers at AT&T Park, 400 fans will get to race into the outfield to pitch tents for the 8th annual San Francisco Giants Slumber Party.

Evening activities include baseball, of course, as well as movies, peanuts, popcorn and pizza, games, goody bags, photos on the field and a chance to get autographs from former baseball stars.

For more surprising sleepovers, see my Critter Campouts slide show on Bing Travel.

Plan your weekend now: Obscura Day is March 20th

Now here’s an event to start planning your weekend around right now.

Saturday, March 20th, 2010 is Obscura Day: a day of expeditions, back-room tours and hidden treasures in your hometown.

Like what? Well, how about Leila’s Cohoon’s Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri? A family emergency kept me from visiting in person a few years back, but I’ve spent a few hours on the phone with Leila talking about her collection of hair wreaths and snippets of hair from famous people.

On Obscura Day there will be a group tour of the museum, so please send a report of what you see.

Not planning to be in Independence, Missouri on Saturday?  There are dozens of other unusual places and collections you can visit on Obscura Day.  See the list of participating places here.

Can’t wait!!!