15 Things You Might Not Know About Minnesota

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1. Much of Minnesota’s land was acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, the treaty in which President Thomas Jefferson more than doubled the size of the United States on April 30, 1803. Other parts were acquired through the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Minnesota officially became the 32nd state in the union on May 11, 1858.

2. Minnesota played an important part in the Civil War, even though no battles were fought in the region: They were the first to respond to President Abraham Lincoln’s volunteer regiment request. Approximately 25,000 people—half of the state’s eligible men—fought against the Confederate army. Reportedly, 100 African American men enlisted in the army. At the time, the state's total African American population, including women and children, was just 259.

3. In the 1984 presidential election, Ronald Reagan won every state except for Minnesota. It went to Democratic nominee—and Minnesotan—Walter Mondale.

4. Minnesota's frigid winters are no reason to go into hybernation. Just ask St. Paul’s residents from 1888. They built an ice palace for the St. Paul Winter Carnival. At the time, it was considered one of the largest buildings in the world. It used 20,000 blocks of ice and was 106 feet high.

5. If an ice palace from 1888 sounds too chilly, you might feel more at home at Southdale Center in Edina. When it first opened in 1956, it was the first enclosed shopping mall in the United States. You know what that means: A temperature-controlled environment built for comfort. The only limitation? Five thousand parking spots sound like a lot—until you’re unable to nab the last open one.

6. The best known mall in the state (and country) is the Mall of America. Since opening in 1992, the destination brings in 40 million visitors per year and generates $2 billion for the state’s economy. Didn’t you hear? Bigger is better. The mall is 4.87 million square feet—the size of 84 football fields!

7. The Minnesota Vikings' (unofficial) No. 1 fan is the homegrown musician Prince. His enthusiasm for the Vikings reached a fever pitch four years ago when he wrote a fight song for his team, “Purple and Gold.” Even if life as a Vikings fan can be difficult, the team and its fans will always have this suave Minnesotan on their side.

8. In 2013, Minnesota had the highest average credit score, with an average of 656. This year, Massachusetts took the lead with 659.

9. Minnesota really does have more shoreline than California. In fact, it has more shoreline than California, Hawaii, and Florida combined. Of course, that’s only if you consider rivers and streams.

10. Frank C. Mars, a real-life Willy Wonka born in Minneapolis, introduced the Milky Way candy bar in 1923. You can also thank him for introducing Snickers in 1930 and 3 Musketeers in 1932, which you could snack on for only 5 cents.

11. Judy Garland was born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, and lived there until she was four years old. She made her stage debut on December 26, 1924, at a movie theater owned by her father.

12. Traveling to Mill Pond dam on Pelican River, right in downtown Pelican Rapids, is kind of like taking a trip to Jurassic Park. It’s home to the world’s largest pelican, which stands at 15 1/2 feet. Don’t worry. You won’t need night vision to evade this dinosaur with wings, affectionately known as Pelican Pete. He’s just a statue built in 1957.

13. One of Minneapolis’s claims to fame is its skyway system, a gargantuan network that connects over 69 city blocks and spreads eight miles. It allows people to travel building-to-building in a comfortable, climate-controlled environment during harsh winters. In fact, the Minneapolis Skyway System is the largest continuous network of skyways in the world.

14. Minnesota is one of the best places to go see a doctor. Not only is Rochester the home of the Mayo Clinic, but the state has a strong history of medical innovations. The world’s first successful open-heart surgery operation was performed at the University of Minnesota in 1952. Likewise, the first successful human bone marrow transplant between non-twins was completed at the University of Minnesota in 1968.

15. Formerly based in Eagen, Minnesota, Northwest Airlines was the first major airline to ban smoking on all of its North American flights on April 23, 1988, the same day a federal law banned it on all flights lasting two hours or less. The New York Times reported industry experts expressing that “some difficulty” could arise from the decision.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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7 People Killed by Musical Instruments

On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
Pixabay, Pexels // Public Domain

We’re used to taking it figuratively. One “slays” on guitar, is a “killer” pianist, or wants to “die” listening to a miraculous piece of music. History, though, is surprisingly rich with examples of people actually killed by musical instruments. Some were bludgeoned and some crushed; others were snuffed out by the sheer effort of performing or while an instrument was devilishly played to cover up the crime. Below are seven people who met their end thanks to a musical instrument.

1. Elizabeth Jackson // Struck with a Flute

A German flute.The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments (1889), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

David Mills was practicing his flute the night of March 25, 1751, when he got into a heated argument with fellow servant Elizabeth Jackson. A woman “given to passion,” she threw a candlestick at Mills after he said something rude. He retaliated by striking her left temple with his flute before the porter and the footman pulled them apart. Jackson lived for another four hours, able to walk but not make sensible speech. Her fellow servants decided to bleed her, a sadly ineffective treatment for skull fractures. “Her s[k]ull was remarkably thin,” the surgeon testified at Mills’s trial.

2. Louis Vierne // Exhausted by an Organ Recital

Louis Vierne plays the organ of St.-Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, France.Source: gallica.bnf.fr, Bibliothèque nationale de France // Public Domain

Reputed to be the king of instruments, the organ requires a performer with an athletic endurance—more than 67-year-old Louis Vierne had to give during a recital at Notre Dame cathedral on June 2, 1937. He collapsed (likely of a heart attack) after playing the last chord of a piece. With a Gallic appreciation for tragedy, one concertgoer noted the piece “bears a title which, given the circumstance, seems like fate and takes on an oddly disturbing meaning: ‘Tombstone for a dead child’!” As Vierne’s lifeless feet fell upon the pedalboard “a low whimper was heard from the admirable instrument, which seemed to weep for its master,” the concertgoer wrote.

3. James “Jimmy the Beard” Ferrozzo // Crushed by a Piano

The exterior of the Condor Club in 1973.Michael Holley, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Getting crushed by a piano is usually the stuff of cartoons, but what happened to James Ferrozzo is somehow even stranger than a cartoon. “A nude, screaming dancer found trapped under a man’s crushed body on a trick piano pinned against a nightclub ceiling was too drunk to remember how she got there,” the AP reported the day after the 1983 incident. The dancer was a new employee at San Francisco’s Condor Club (said to be one of the first, if not the first, topless bar). The man was her boyfriend, the club’s bouncer. And the trick piano was part of topless-dancing pioneer Carol Doda’s act—a white baby grand that lowered her from the second floor. During Ferrozzo’s assignation with the dancer, the piano’s switch was somehow activated, lifting him partway to heaven before deadly contact with the ceiling sent him the rest of the way.

4. Linos // Killed with a Lyre

A student and his music teacher, holding a lyre—potentially Herakles and Linos.Petit Palais, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

One of the greatest music teachers of mythic Ancient Greece, Linos took on Herakles as a pupil. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the demi-god “was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul,” and so after a harsh reprimand he flew into a rage and beat Linos to death with his lyre. Herakles dubiously used a sort of ancient stand-your-ground law as a defense during trial and was exonerated. Poor Linos: an honest man beaten by a lyre.

5. Sophia Rasch // Suffocated While a Piano Muffled her Screams

Pixabay, Pexels

No one better proves George Bernard Shaw’s quip that “hell is full of musical amateurs” than Susannah Koczula. “I have seen Susannah trying to play the piano several times—she could not play,” 10-year-old Carl Rasch testified at Koczula’s 1894 trial. Susannah, the Rasch’s caregiver, distracted little Carl, sister Clara, and their neighborhood friend Woolf with an impromptu performance while a gruesome scene unfolded upstairs: Koczula’s husband tied and suffocated Carl and Clara’s mother, Sophia Rasch, before making off with her jewelry. “She banged the piano,” explained Woolf. “I heard no halloaing.”

6. Marianne Kirchgessner // A Nervous Disorder Acquired Playing the Glass Armonica

According to one doctor, Ben Franklin's instrument caused "a great degree of nervous weakness."Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761, unleashing a deadly scourge upon the musical world. “It was forbidden in several countries by the police,” wrote music historian Karl Pohl in 1862, while Karl Leopold Röllig warned in 1787 that “It’s not just the gentle waves of air that fill the ear, but the charming vibrations and constant strain of the bowls upon the already delicate nerves of the fingers that combine to produce diseases which are terrible, maybe even fatal.” In 1808, when Marianne Kirchgessner, Europe’s premiere glass armonica virtuoso, died at the age of 39, many suspected nervousness brought on by playing the instrument.

7. Charles Ratherbee // Lung Disease Possibly Caused by Playing the Trumpet

A valve trumpet made by Elbridge G. Wright, circa 1845.Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

One summer day in 1845, Charles Ratherbee, a trumpeter, got into a fight with Joseph Harvey, who rented space in a garden from Ratherbee and was sowing seeds where the trumpeter had planned to plant potatoes. When confronted, Harvey became upset and knocked Ratherbee to the ground with his elbow. Two weeks and five days later, Ratherbee was dead.

Harvey was arrested for Ratherbee’s death, but a doctor pinpointed another killer: An undiagnosed lung disease made worse by his musical career. “The blowing of a trumpet would decidedly increase [the disease],” the surgeon testified at Harvey’s manslaughter trial. When asked if he was “in a fit state to blow a trumpet” the surgeon replied bluntly, “No.” Harvey was acquitted and given a suspended sentence for assault. The trumpet was never charged.