Bored at work? Might as well learn something new about what you do.
You surely don't need any convincing to procrastinate for a bit, but why not waste some time acquiring more completely random knowledge? Much like those name-specific keychains at gift stores, you might not actually find yours on this list. But if you do find your job, feel free to quiz your coworkers and anyone else in the industry on how much they know about their career.
The green visors accountants once wore served to reduce eye strain that came from reading fine print under incandescent lighting.
The time when green eyeshades were popularly worn by accountants, bankers and other professions seems to have passed, but maybe we should bring them back, New York Magazine suggests
. A Quora user provides a little more context
on the historical rise of the visor.
Thespis is widely regarded as the first true actor. That's where the term "thespian" comes from.
Rising to prominence in 535 or 534 BC, Thespis also may have invented "Tragedy"
and improved the typical Greek chorus with various dances.
An ancient Egyptian is said to have authored the first known written advertisement on papyrus.
It was found in the ruins of Thebes
and advertised a reward for the return of a runaway slave. The scroll can now be found at The British Museum
Art competitions used to be a part of the Olympics.
From 1912 to 1948, 151 Olympic medals were awarded for sports-themed artworks in the fields of architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. When the art competitions were dropped from the games, host cities were then encouraged to hold cultural events
alongside the sporting events.
Cynisca of Sparta was the first woman to be recorded as an Olympic victor.
Cynisca was a Spartan princess and athlete
who is credited as a two-time victor in the four-horse chariot Olympic competition. While she was not allowed to ride the chariot herself due to the competition's ban on women, she entered her horses and chariot, which were driven to victory by male racers.
. The image is of Artemis but here's a picture of Cynisca
Bakers who cheated customers once received harsh punishments, so 13 became the new dozen to ensure that they were always seen as fair.
King Henry III revived an old law in 1266
called the Assize of Bread and Ale, subjecting bakers who had become notorious for underselling their customers to severe punishment. Those wishing to avoid potential pillory, whipping or even the loss of a hand implemented a "baker's dozen" as a standard safeguard against accidentally botched orders.
Abraham Lincoln was a licensed bartender and owned his own tavern.
The place was called Berry and Lincoln, and you can read about what was served in the New Salem, Illinois, tavern at Chicagoist
Mr. T was a nightclub bouncer, and his gold chain habit started as a human lost-and-found.
When customers would return to claim lost items
, they wouldn't need to re-enter the club, as the jewelry was visible on Mr. T's body.
The New York Stock Exchange began in a coffee house.
The coffee shop was at the corner of Wall and Water streets and housed the stock exchange until 1825
Ancient Egyptian butchers would wear high heels to keep their feet away from the blood of slaughtered animals.
Apparently, higher classes in ancient Egyptian society would also wear high heels for ceremonial purposes
Image: Flickr user ILRI
Harrison Ford was a carpenter and got his acting break while still making cabinets and other furniture.
Ford taught himself the art of woodworking
, just as he did acting.
The first clowns may have been Egyptian during the Old Kingdom era, 4,500 years ago.
Apparently, they served as court jesters
and were thought to have juggled
There's dispute over the actual location of the original brick wall that later become an iconic backdrop for standup routines.
Both San Francisco's hungry i
(which is now a strip club) and The Improv
in New York City have been said to house that now-famous brick wall.
Before plastic hardhats became widely used, workers would cover cloth with tar and let it harden.
This practice of letting tar hats
dry in the sun was also commonplace among workers building the Hoover Dam
The chef hat, or toque, may have actually once been a crown of sorts.
According to one legend, cooks for the ancient Assyrian kings
were in the royal court and highly respected, as they had to be trusted not to poison the royalty. In the royal court, they had the honor of wearing a crown just like the king's, but made out of cloth instead. Some historians believe these were the first chef hats.
The first school counselors were special English teachers given extra counseling tasks.
Jesse B. Davis
is credited with coming up with the first school guidance program and encouraged English schoolteachers to take on roles that would now be considered similar to those of modern counselors.
A pizza delivery man played a key role in inventing the modern bullet proof vest.
Richard Davis came up with the idea after being held up at gunpoint
during a pizza delivery in 1969.
The Nike swoosh was designed for only $35.
At the time, in 1971, Nike was just starting out as a small running footwear
company and still went by the name Blue Ribbon Sports. The designer, Carolyn Davidson, was a graphic design student at the time and was employed to design the logo by co-founder Phil Knight. After the company became successful, Davidson was given a diamond ring with the "swoosh," along with an undisclosed amount of stock
Image: University of Oregon
The iconic "scratch" sound may have been invented by accident in a bedroom.
According to music legend, Grand Wizzard Theodore was playing music too loudly in his room, when his mom came up to complain, causing Theodore to grab the record
and "scratch" it.
There's an "economic law" based on the price of New York pizza.
The New York Pizza Connection is an "economic law," proposed in 1980, which states that the price of a slice of pizza in the city correlates with the cost of a subway ride and has held roughly true
Image: Vinnie's Pizzeria
Albert Einstein was an electrician at Oktoberfest.
Einstein's father and uncle were electricians with their own company, and along with Albert's help, were the first to provide electric lighting
The age of an average NASA engineer used to be about late-twenties.
During the Apollo 11 mission, many NASA employees were just out of college and the control room had an average age of 28. Now, employees tend to be in their late forties
Someone bred the tomacco plant from "The Simpsons" in real life.
The creator, Rob Baur, was invited along with his family to meet "The Simpsons" writing staff, to whom he gifted the plant.
There were financial heroes of the American Revolution too, such as the often overlooked Haym Salomon.
Much of the revolutionary effort was financially backed by Salomon, who'd often use his own funds to bail out the government when he wasn't selling bills of exchange. Salomon may have been "the greatest financier of the Revolution,"
but partly due to his personal bailouts of the Continental Congress, eventually died penniless.
Firefighters may have once used their wet beards as smoke masks.
Apparently, firefighters used to dip their facial hair in water and then clench the wet hair between their teeth so they could filter the smoke
and breathe better.
Many barbers also used to be surgeons as well.
In the last millennia, particularly in medieval Europe
, it was common for barbers to also perform simple surgeries with their varied and well-maintained knives. Apparently, the red and white pole now associated with barbershops represented blood and the napkins and bandages used to clean up the mess.
Human Resources Professional
Shaq has an Education Doctorate in Human Resource Development.
Shaquille O'Neal received his doctoral degree on May 12, 2012 from Barry University.
Ice Cream Truck Driver
Rival ice cream trucks once went to war in Glasgow over turf.
Rival gangs in Glasgow sold drugs and stolen items out of ice cream trucks in the 1980s, culminating in a battle for territory between the two groups. Read more about the "Glasgow Ice Cream Wars" here
A NASA intern once stole 17 pounds of moon rocks and then had sex on top of them.
Thad Roberts was 25 years old back then and served time in jail after trying to sell the rocks. His life is chronicled in the book "Sex on the Moon."
A "secret society" of journalists used to try and sneak the phrase "occult hand" into stories.
It started in 1965 with the Charlotte News and Charlotte Observer, but ended up being snuck into every major American newspaper, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. In 2006, it was announced that a new phrase
had been chosen to hide into stories.
The first lawyers had to work for free in ancient Greece.
The ancient Greeks originally
had laws stating that individuals were supposed to plead their own cases or select a friend to argue for them, as long as they weren't paid. These first "lawyers," being inherently savvy with the law, ended up getting around the stipulations.
Before lifeguards, relatively ineffective "lifelines" were installed to give struggling swimmers something to grab onto.
These lifelines were ropes that were tied to shore and floated into the water, but struggling swimmers often had trouble using them.
The likely first book of magic tricks was actually anti-magician.
In 1584, Reginald Scot authored "The Discovery of Witchcraft," which sought to prove that magic wasn't real by explaining in detail how famous tricks were accomplished.
Simply whacking something to get it to work is called "percussive maintenance."
Because sometimes, things just need a "good hard thump."
Queen Elizabeth was a mechanic in WWII.
She was an 18-year-old princess
at the time of her training.
Bob Ross was in the the U.S. Air Force for 20 years, where he was apparently a screaming drill sergeant and a "mean, tough person."
After retiring at the rank of master sergeant
, Ross promised to never scream again and became the host of the famous television show, "The Joy of Painting."
Image: Flickr user somnium!
Almost all the iconic female statues of New York City are modeled after one forgotten teenager.
Her name is Audrey Munson
and despite being the face of more than 15 iconic statues
, she quickly fell into obscurity in her late twenties and now rests in an unmarked grave.
Images: WikiCommons / Left
The earliest known musical instrument is a flute made of bird bone and mammoth ivory.
The flutes were found in caves in southwest Germany and are thought to be between 42,000 and 43,000 years old. While archeologists have found other likely percussion instruments and another bone carving
that may have been crafted to play musical notes, there is still disagreement over that artifact's true purpose.
Scrubs are typically blue or green, as they have longer lifespans than the old white color.
The white color
required too much cleaning, while blue and green not only mask stains better, but serve as opposites
to certain colors of human bodies. For example, the green color frequently worn by surgeons creates a less harsh contrast when compared to the color of blood.
Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper were all invented by pharmacists.
And yes, there was cocaine in Coca-Cola
"View from the Window at Le Gras" is the oldest surviving photograph.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce captured this photo with a camera obscura in either 1826 or 1827.
Ancient Roman physicians would prescribe gladiator blood to cure epilepsy.
This happened between the first and sixth centuries. After gladiator fighting was banned, the blood of executed individuals was used instead.
A fake report recently went viral, claiming that hundreds of physicists had authored a report to test peanut butter's effect on Earth's rotation.
The fake study concluded peanut butter had no effect on the Earth's rotation. That's probably a fair conclusion, but Improbable Research's co-founder and editor Marc Abrahams told HuffPost that the report was "entirely concocted." Abrahams wrote the "published study" using names of friends, acquaintances and famous people, including one Ph.D., R. M. Nixon and a number of other presidents.
Following through on two bar bets, a young man landed a plane on the streets of Manhattan two different times.
The first time he pulled the maneuver off, Thomas Fitzpatrick
only got a $100 fine. The second time led to a six-month jail sentence.
Image above is not of same event.
Cops in France used police dogs as early as the 14th century.
The canines guarded dock installations. Around the beginning of the 20th century
, dogs became more commonly integrated with police departments.
One of the first sex scandals in American political history was between Alexander Hamilton and Maria Reynolds.
Reynolds was the wife of a con man who encouraged the affair and blackmailed Hamilton
into paying him money to continue sleeping with his wife without political consequences. Eventually, Hamilton's rival, Thomas Jefferson, was told of the affair and may have "gossip girled" about it, ensuring that Hamilton could never win another political office.
The postal service had an unofficial mascot dog named Owney in the late 19th century.
Owney was adopted in 1888 by a New York post office and lived as a traveling mascot until 1897, when he was put down for biting a postal clerk.
A Google employee won Facebook's first annual Hacker Cup challenge, and then wore his Google employee badge when collecting the prize.
Petr Mitrichev won the competition in 2011, but when asked whether wearing the badge was a taunt, he said, "I just had left it on from the day before, I was not trying to make any point."
A receptionist trolled the New York Times into thinking fans of grunge had their own lingo.
From this "grunge speak"
hoax came the 90s term "score."
The New York Times was obviously very mad when it learned it had been duped by the Sub Pop Records receptionist.
Before the cash register, business owners often didn't know if they were making a profit or not.
Cash registers were invented by James Ritty and John Birch
in 1883, and were originally nicknamed the "incorruptible cashier."
Sherlock Holmes had a secretary working for him in real life.
The secretary would answer fan mail sent to 221B Baker Street
in London, among other duties.
A social worker saved about 2,500 Polish Jews from the Holocaust.
Irena Sendler smuggled infants and children out of Warsaw and was severely beaten when she was caught. After the war, she tried to reunite any families that survived. Her work retroactively earned her a nomination for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
, but she lost to Al Gore.
No model would pose in the first bikini, so a professional stripper did instead.
was a nude dancer at the Casino de Paris and only 19 years old when she modeled Louis Réard's design. Apparently, Bernardini later received around 50,000 fan letters
Apples were first given to frontier teachers, who were often housed and fed by students' families.
Bing Crosby's 1939 song "An Apple for the Teacher" probably helped solidify the tradition of gifting an apple instead of other types of food.
The ancient Greeks were the first to recognize mental illness as a condition.
They still may have thought that mental illnesses came from the gods,
The actor who played Darth Vader later trained Christopher Reeve for his role as Superman.
David Prowse himself auditioned for the lead role in the 1978 "Superman" film, but ended up being Reeve's trainer instead, putting him on a regiment of protein drinks and rigorous exercise.
Trucker hats were originally given out as promotional items in rural communities.
Businesses like tractor companies and animal feed stores would hand out the hats to promote their brands. Truckers would then wear them across the country, offering free advertising.
Image: Flickr user theqspeaks
Some waiters used to have to pay the restaurant to serve tables.
This forced waiters
to survive only on tips, which were often withheld depending on the establishment's agreement with its employees. This hasn't actually changed that much
Arguably the first sci-fi novel came out of the Roman Empire and features Greeks traveling to space and meeting aliens.
"True History" was written by Lucian of Samosata
in the second century.
Image Left: WikiCommons
& Image Right: WikiCommons
All images Getty unless otherwise noted.