15 Things You Might Not Know About Texas

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istock

1. They say everything’s bigger in Texas, but with an area of 268,602 square miles, Texas is only the second largest state in the U.S. At approximately 663,300 square miles, Alaska is nearly 2.5 times as large. 

2. With 26.06 million residents, Texas also boasts the country’s second largest population (behind California, which is home to 38.04 million). However, three of the ten most populous cities in the United States are in Texas: Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. Austin, the state capital, just barely misses the cutoff—it’s the country’s 11th most populated city.

3. Things that really are bigger in Texas? Food, mostly. Texas holds the Guinness World Record for the largest Frito pie. It was created at the Texas State Fair in October 2012 and weighed in at 1,325 pounds. The 133-square-foot concoction included 635 bags of Fritos corn chips, 660 cans of Hormel Chili without beans, and 580 bags of shredded cheddar cheese. It fed 5,000 hungry patrons.

4. Texas is also home to the world’s largest pecan pie—created by the El Paso Diablos Baseball Club in 1999, it measured 50 feet in diameter and weighed just under 21 tons—and largest bowl of salsa. A 500-gallon bowl of the dip was created by Bob Blumer of the TV show Glutton for Punishment at the annual Tomato Fest in Jacksonville, Texas, in 2010. And as if a 2,672-pound bowl of salsa isn't strange enough, Jacksonville is also "Home of the Concrete Tomatoes." Over 300 painted concrete tomatoes, each weighing 665 pounds, decorate the city.

5. Bruschi, a Boston terrier from Toby, Texas, has the honor of being the dog with the largest eyes. His enormous peepers measure 28 millimeters in diameter. In comparison, the average human eye has a diameter of 24 millimeters.

6. Texas takes its nickname, the Lone Star State, from its state flag. The lone star made its first appearance on the Republic of Texas’s flag in 1838 (Texas was an independent nation from 1836-1845), and was adopted as the Republic’s national flag in 1839. When Texas became the 28th state in 1845, its national flag became the state flag. To this day, Texas adheres to a rigid code for properly displaying and caring for its state flag. The code outlines the proper way to display the flag on a vehicle, over a street (with different provisions for north-south or east-west streets), at night, or on a casket, to name a few. The Texas state flag also must never trail in water, be used as bedding or drapery, be used to carry anything—I could go on…

7. The Texas Longhorn is the state’s official large animal (the official small animal is the armadillo). Its distinctive horns, for which it gets its name, measure an average of 36 to 80 inches from tip to tip. Prime examples of the prized species regularly fetch tens of thousands of dollars at cattle auctions. In 2008, 3-year-old SDR Candy Cane sold at the Texas Longhorn Legacy Sale for a record $170,000.

8. The Texas Longhorns football team (for the University of Texas at Austin), meanwhile, was valued at $805 million in 2012. At the time, the collegiate squad was more valuable than three NFL teams: the Jacksonville Jaguars ($770 million), St. Louis Rams ($780 million), and Oakland Raiders ($785 million). In 2014, Forbes dubbed the Dallas Cowboys the highest-valued NFL team, at a whopping $3.2 billion. The Houston Texans rank fifth, at $1.85 billion. It’s safe to say Texas takes its football seriously.

9. While Presidents George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush are strongly associated with Texas, and indeed called it home for many years, neither was actually born in the Lone Star State. George H. W. Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, and the younger Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut. Two American presidents were born in the great state of Texas, however: Dwight D. Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson.

10. Bracken Cave in Comal County, Texas, is the summer home to the largest colony of bats in the world. An estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats dwell there from March to October every year. In 2013, the 10,000-year-old habitat was threatened by a proposed housing development. When the developer decided not to buy the property adjacent to the cave, government officials and environmentalists banded together to raise funds to preserve the property.

11. Dr Pepper (properly styled with no period after “Dr”), was invented in Waco, Texas. Charles Alderton, a young pharmacist, formulated the unique flavor in 1885 while experimenting with different mixtures of carbonated sodas and fruit syrups. His boss, pharmacy owner Wade Morrison, loved Alderton's unique brew and named it Dr Pepper after an old flame's father. Dr Pepper was introduced to almost 20 million people during the 1904 World’s Fair Exposition in St. Louis. Waco is still home to a Dr Pepper Museum.

12. Speaking of peppers, jalapeno pepper jelly originated in Lake Jackson, Texas, and was first marketed commercially in 1978.

13. The popular slogan "Don't Mess With Texas" originated as part of a 1986 campaign to reduce litter along Texas roadways.

14. Texas’s state motto is “Friendship.” This likely originated from the state’s name itself, as “Texas” is believed to have been derived from the Caddo Indian word tejas meaning “friends” or “allies.”

15. John Wayne, Will Rogers, and Chuck Norris (who starred in Walker, Texas Ranger) are honorary members of the Texas Rangers law enforcement group (not the baseball team).

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

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

Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

Computers and tablets

Amazon

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet 64GB; $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 8 Tablet 64GB; $84 (save $35)

- HP Pavilion x360 14 Convertible 2-in-1 Laptop; $646 (save $114)

- HP Pavilion Desktop, 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 Processor; $469 (save $81)

- Acer Nitro 5 Gaming Laptop; $973 (save $177)

Headphones and speakers

Beats/Amazon

- Bose QuietComfort 35 II Wireless Bluetooth Headphones; $200 (save $100)

- Sony Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Wireless Headphones; $278 (save $72)

- JBL LIVE Wireless Headphones; $100 (save $30)

- JBL Charge 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $120 (save $10)

- Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker II; $79 (save $50)

- Powerbeats Pro Wireless Earphones; $200 (save $50)

Video Games

Sony

- Watch Dogs Legion; $30 (save $30)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

- The Last of Us Part II; $30 (save $30)

TECH, GADGETS, AND TVS

Samsung/Amazon

- Amazon Fire TV Stick; $30 (save $20)

- Echo Show 8; $65 (save $65)

- Nixplay Digital Picture Frame; $115 (save $65)

- eufy Smart Doorbell; $90 (save $30)

- Samsung 75-Inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $898 (save $300)

home and Kitchen

Ninja/Amazon

- T-fal 17-Piece Cookware Set; $124 (save $56)

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Curved Round Chef's Oven; $180 (save $136)

- Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Convection Toaster Oven; $195 (save $105)

- Roborock E4 Robot Vacuum Cleaner; $189 (save $111)

- Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker 9 in 1; $80 (save $120)

- Shark IZ362H Cordless Anti-Allergen Lightweight Stick Vacuum; $170 (save $110)

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

6 Effective Tips for Coping With Panic Attacks

Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels
Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

If you suddenly find yourself having an abrupt feeling of fear paired with anxiety or an overwhelming sense that you are losing control, you might be experiencing a panic attack. A panic attack, which can last for minutes or hours, can manifest in physical symptoms that some sufferers compare to a heart attack. And if you've ever had one, you're far from alone.

Each year, up to 11 percent of Americans experience panic attacks—though that percentage could rise in 2020. Using Google Trends, researchers have noted a significant increase in searches related to panic attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it’s not entirely conclusive, it's clear that people need to be paying attention to their mental health right now as much as they are their physical well-being.

“I have seen a huge increase in those experiencing panic attacks and other forms of anxiety during lockdown,” psychotherapist and coach Sarie Taylor tells Mental Floss. She attributes it to the uncertainty and unpredictability of the pandemic.

If you're prone to panic attacks, here are several methods you can use to help cope. Keep in mind that these techniques are not mutually exclusive, so you might find that practicing two or three of them at once is the fastest way to alleviate the symptoms brought on by a panic attack. Nor should you become frustrated if they don't always work for you. Every person and every panic attack is different. “Do not be disheartened if they do not always seem to work for you," Taylor says. "Your mind will always eventually settle regardless.”

1. Control your breathing.

Changes in breathing patterns and shortness of breath during panic attacks are common, but it can heighten the feeling of suffocation that some people experience. To address this, try common breathing techniques such as the 4-7-8 exercise [PDF] or roll breathing (also known as abdominal breathing). Deep breathing, or breath focus, is a great strategy to lower your heart rate, stabilize your blood pressure, and lower your stress levels. If you can control your breathing, the panic may subside and you can reduce some of your other symptoms.

2. Connect with your current environment.

To de-escalate the overwhelming emotions that often come with a panic attack and bring your focus to the present, it helps to engage your senses. You may be able to do this through visualization exercises, like imagining yourself sitting by the ocean or wherever you're happiest. Another effective method is the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique, where you acknowledge five things you can see around you, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This can be a great way to distract yourself from intrusive thoughts and focus on the sensations you can physically experience in that moment instead.

3. Grab an ice cube.

If you feel that breathing and relaxation exercises don’t bring enough relief, some people are able to lessen the effects of a panic with ice cubes. Holding an ice cube in your hand for as long as you can, or putting it inside your mouth until it melts, brings enough discomfort to divert your body’s response away from panic. If you put the ice cube in your mouth, it forces your body to produce more saliva, activating the parasympathetic nervous system and halting the fight-or-flight response that panic attacks typically trigger.

According to Taylor, when you hold something stimulating, it appeals to the senses and becomes difficult to ignore. This means that your attention goes to the ice’s temperature and texture. Like all methods, it’s not equally effective for everyone and experiences may vary.

4. Relax your muscles.

Progressive muscle relaxation is an anxiety and stress management technique that relieves tension from the body [PDF]. The practice is done by lying down, tensing a muscle group for up to 10 seconds, relaxing it, then moving on to another muscle group. You can start from head to toe or vice versa, or begin with your hands and then work your way through your body. Concentrating on how your muscles tense and relax helps you let go of the negative feelings a panic attack brings on.

5. Challenge your brain.

It’s not easy to shake off negative thoughts, especially as they increasingly worsen. To force your brain to think of something else, engage in small mental exercises. This includes anything from counting backward from 100 in threes or reciting the alphabet backward to counting how many letters there are in your full name or reciting all the colors you can think of or see. By completing these exercises, even imperfectly, you can distract yourself enough to potentially reduce your symptoms.

The effectiveness of such exercises depends on how invested you are in your anxious thoughts. “The earlier you notice your mind getting busy, the easier these techniques may be,” Taylor says.

6. Take your prescribed medications.

Seeing a doctor and getting treatment for frequent panic attacks is important because they can become worse over time. There are a variety of medications that can help with panic attacks, but according to the Mayo Clinic, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most effective choice for panic attacks. Take your medication(s) as prescribed, and try to be aware of how well and quickly they work for you, so that you can talk with your doctor to make sure you're taking the best medication for your symptoms.