15 Things You Might Not Know About Virginia

istock
istock

1. On Tangier Island, Virginia, many folks speak a dialect that closely resembles the language used in Restoration England, a period just slightly after Shakespeare's time. Television and the advancement of mass communication devices have caused the accent to deteriorate but, for generations, inhabitants sounded much like early English settlers. Huzzah!

2. Half the population of the United States lives within a 500-mile radius of the capital of Virginia.

3. If tallying by place of birth, Virginia has produced more U.S. presidents than any other sate (Ohio is close on its heels with seven). The eight presidents born in Virginia were: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson (that includes four of our first five!).

4. The country's first commercial crop of peanuts was grown in Virginia in the 1800s. Peanuts, which were considered difficult to grow, were primarily used for oil, livestock food, and as a cocoa substitute.

5. The state motto of Virginia is sic semper tyrannis, which translates to “Thus always to tyrants.” The Latin words are also reported to have been shouted by actor John Wilkes Booth from the Ford's Theatre stage after he shot President Abraham Lincoln; Booth was born in Maryland, not Virginia.

6. More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state.

7. Oyster enthusiasts, take note: The only museum dedicated specifically to the oyster biz was located on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. In 2008, the Oyster Museum was renamed the Museum of Chincoteague Island and its focus broadened to include more of the area's history.

8. Mount Trashmore Park, a 165-acre state park in Virginia Beach, is a rehabilitated landfill. The park's main mountain, Mount Trashmore, is 60 feet tall, 800 feet long, and was created by compacting layers of solid waste and clean soil.

9. The first American college student arrested for streaking executed the stunt on the campus of Washington College (now Washington and Lee) in Lexington, Virginia, in 1804. George William Crump, who had to sit out the rest of the term after pulling the stunt, went on to claim a seat in Congress.

10. The Wren Building at the College of William and Mary is the oldest college building in the country.

11. Virginia was the only one of the colonies to have been originally divided into “shires.” While Tolkien might have approved, the eight shires created in 1634 were renamed “counties” only a few years later.

12. Natural Bridge, Virginia, is home to Foamhenge, a full-size replica of Stonehenge made entirely out of Styrofoam.

13. You can find Stonewall Jackson’s amputated left arm buried in Lacy Family Cemetery in Ellwood, Virginia. It should be easy to find, since it is the cemetery's only marked “grave”—a small granite marker states simply, “Arm of Stonewall Jackson, May 3, 1863.”

14. Arlington, Virginia, is home to the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum. At the museum, you can learn about the history of illegal drugs in America.

15. The Pentagon, in addition to being the home of the U.S. Department of Defense, also lays claim to being the world’s largest low-rise office building. It has twice the floor space of the Empire State Building, and the U.S. Capitol building could fit into any one of the Pentagon’s five sections.

Looking to Downsize? You Can Buy a 5-Room DIY Cabin on Amazon for Less Than $33,000

Five rooms of one's own.
Five rooms of one's own.
Allwood/Amazon

If you’ve already mastered DIY houses for birds and dogs, maybe it’s time you built one for yourself.

As Simplemost reports, there are a number of house kits that you can order on Amazon, and the Allwood Avalon Cabin Kit is one of the quaintest—and, at $32,990, most affordable—options. The 540-square-foot structure has enough space for a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a sitting room—and there’s an additional 218-square-foot loft with the potential to be the coziest reading nook of all time.

You can opt for three larger rooms if you're willing to skip the kitchen and bathroom.Allwood/Amazon

The construction process might not be a great idea for someone who’s never picked up a hammer, but you don’t need an architectural degree to tackle it. Step-by-step instructions and all materials are included, so it’s a little like a high-level IKEA project. According to the Amazon listing, it takes two adults about a week to complete. Since the Nordic wood walls are reinforced with steel rods, the house can withstand winds up to 120 mph, and you can pay an extra $1000 to upgrade from double-glass windows and doors to triple-glass for added fortification.

Sadly, the cool ceiling lamp is not included.Allwood/Amazon

Though everything you need for the shell of the house comes in the kit, you will need to purchase whatever goes inside it: toilet, shower, sink, stove, insulation, and all other furnishings. You can also customize the blueprint to fit your own plans for the space; maybe, for example, you’re going to use the house as a small event venue, and you’d rather have two or three large, airy rooms and no kitchen or bedroom.

Intrigued? Find out more here.

[h/t Simplemost]

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The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time, According to Rotten Tomatoes

MCA/Universal Home Video
MCA/Universal Home Video

If the ongoing popularity of shark films has taught us anything, it’s that we simply can’t spend enough screen time with these predators, who can famously ruin a beach day with one swift gnash of their teeth. And even if shark attacks are far less common than Hollywood would have us believe, it’s still entertaining to watch a great white stalk an unsuspecting fictional swimmer—or, in the case of 2013’s Sharknado, whirl through the air in a terrifying cyclone.

To celebrate Shark Week this week, Rotten Tomatoes has compiled a list of the best shark movies of all time, ranked by aggregated critics' score. Unsurprisingly topping the list is Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws, which quite possibly ignited our societal fixation on great white sharks. The second-place finisher was 2012’s Kon-Tiki, based on the true story of Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl’s harrowing voyage across the Pacific Ocean on a wooden raft in 1947.

If you did happen to write off Sharknado as too kitschy to be worth the watch, you might want to reconsider—it ranks sixth on the list, with a score of 78 percent, and its 2014 sequel sits in ninth place, with 61 percent. The list doesn’t only comprise dramatized shark attacks. In seventh place is Jean-Michel Cousteau’s 2005 documentary Sharks 3D, a fascinating foray into the real world of great whites, hammerheads, and more.

But for every critically acclaimed shark flick, there’s another that flopped spectacularly. After you’ve perused the highest-rated shark films below, check out the worst ones on Rotten Tomatoes’ full list here.

  1. Jaws (1975) // 98 percent
  1. Kon-Tiki (2012) // 81 percent
  1. The Reef (2010) // 80 percent
  1. Sharkwater (2007) // 79 percent
  1. The Shallows (2016) // 78 percent
  1. Sharknado (2013) // 78 percent
  1. Sharks 3D (2004) // 75 percent
  1. Open Water (2004) // 71 percent
  1. Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014) // 61 percent
  1. Jaws 2 (1978) // 60 percent

[h/t Rotten Tomatoes]