Trick or Treat: History of Halloween

The meaning and traditions of Halloween seem to be fading as every year passes. Halloween can mean different things to different people and different cultures. For little kids its about getting free candy, for college girls it about dressing up as the slutty version of virtually anything, and for adults it means shelling out cash for your kids costume. But underneath all that there are original traditions and customs that built up this fun holiday.

mean girls

The Halloween that we in the States are used to is based off the Celtic holiday, Samhain. This was a time were people would stock up for winter and hoard food. Samhain was celebrated at the end of the harvest on October 31. During this time the Gaelics believed that the worlds of the death and alive overlapped and the dead could walk among the living.

mean GIRLS

The tradition of dressing up and going trick or treating started out much differently than how its practiced today. Dressing up in costumes or masks started out as ways to disguise the living from the dead as not not upset the dead. Trick or treating was originally practiced in the middle ages and was called “souling”, homeless beggars would go door to door asking for food in exchange for prayers.



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Bubble Boy

Imagine living your whole entire life inside a plastic bubble, no human contact, no swimming in the ocean, no playing in the rain. Moments like that are the kind of normal childhood memories that David Vetter had to miss out on. You see, David  was born with a rare condition that weakens the immune system to the point where any average germ that the human body would easily fend off could be deadly. His disease call sever combined immunodeficiency or SCID.


At birth David was put into a sterilized plastic bubble that he would call home for the rest of his life. Doctors never expected the little boy to make it past his first weeks of  life but David proved them wrong.

Everything that bubble boy came in contact with had to be sterilized through a process of placing the object in a container with ehtelyn oxide gas for four house at temperature of over 200 degrees. The little boy could only get a hug from his mother via gloves attached to the outside of his bubble. In order to try and give David the most normal life possible a tv was placed inside his sterile container.


NASA created a sort of “space suit” that would allow young Vetter to walk outside his bubble for short periods of time. The bubble and suit were both kept inflated by air compressors that were so loud that talking with David was often difficult.


At the very young age of 12, David passed away of natural causes due to his disease. But his legacy lived on through pop-culture refferences in TV and movies.

There, There, Let It All Out : A Guide to Tears and Crying

The act of crying tears from our eyes is a trait completely unique to the human species. No other animals and obviously, plants, do that when they are feeling a certain emotion. But not only are tears specific to human kind but the type of tear is specific to each emotion and they all look completely different under a microscope.

According to the Smithsonian Collage of Arts and Science’s Joseph Stromberg, there are three types of tears.

  • Basal
  • Reflex
  • Psychic

Basal Tears

Basal tears are the type of tears that we do not really cry. These are the lubricants that constantly cover the surface of our eyes and keep all kinds of gunk out of them. There is not a whole lot to say about these because there is nothing very special about them. Everybody, even animals have these tears because they are not the kind that you would cry out. Here is an example of what a basal tear would look like under a microscope.


Reflex Tears

Reflex tears are what your eyes produce when when that pesky grain of sand somehow made its way from the ground all they way into your eyeball or when that bit of mascara falls into your eye and burns like hell. As stated in its name reflex tears are the bodies natural reflexes to irritants. So these are the tears that are produced when you chop an onion or eat a spicy pepper or even when you choke and vomit. So yes ladies that is why your makeup is running down your face after a long night at the bar. Under the microscope these tears look like this.


Psychic Tears

This last type of tear is what we women first think of when we read the word cry and what men swear they never do, this is the weeping crying. Psychic crying is triggered by emotions, stress, and physical pain. But within those categories there are hundreds of different reasons to cry.

  • Because you are happy
  • Because you are physically in pain
  • Because you are emotionally in pain
  • Because you are laughing so hard

The list could go on and on…

But the crazy part is that each different emotion or reason for crying has a different pattern under the microscope. Here are a few examples:

Tears of Grief


Tears of Laughter


Tears of Remembrance


It is absolutely amazing that our bodies can tell the difference between tears of pain from ramming your hip into the corner of the kitchen counter and tears of joy from seeing your grandmother after a successful surgery.

Quick men, now is your chance! Invest in a microscope so you can tell the difference between your girlfriend/wife’s fake and real tears. Science saves the day again. Sorry Kim.


Tripping for Our Forefathers

(disclosure: this is not from personal experience but from research)

Drugs. Parents have warned their kids for centuries about the dangers of using mind-altering substances and for the same amount of time kids have discredited everything their parents say because they are “too old” and what would they know about drugs anyway. Well don’t be so sure that the parental units don’t know exactly what their children are experiencing when they sneak off on weekend nights. These substances aren’t new and hip, chances are great grandma Sue could teach her grandkids a thing or two about dropping some acid.


Psychedelic drugs might seem like they just popped up in the sixties and seventies but they have been around for a very long time. Getting high is nothing new and compared to the majority of today’s hallucinogenic drugs that are made with chemicals, the historic ways are all natural.

During the middle ages people got trippy without even knowing that they were doing it. By accidentally consuming bread or cereal that had been infected with ergot, a fungus that grows on wheat, people would have strange hallucinations and sometimes convulsions. One of the components within the ergot that induces these side effects is lysergic acid, a main ingredient in LSD. Ergot poisoning is thought to be one of the causes of the Salem witch hunt. Women who consumed the ergot may have acted strange causing them to be put under scrutiny.


Another form of old world drugs is the Fly Argaric mushroom. A poisonous mushroom found in North West Russia and Scandinavia. Although potentially deadly, those crazy vikings just wanted to get freaky so they devised a disgusting yet ingenious plan to filter out the toxins of the mushroom before eating it. They would feed it to their reindeer and then collect the reindeer urine and drink it. The extent that some people will go in order to get a good trip in insane.


Although Fly Araric mushrooms are iconic to european floklore and seen in illustrated children’s books  those are not the mushrooms you would find being sold in a sleazy alley way today. The mushrooms that are commonly consumed today are psylocibin mushrooms. These are famous for causing the user to experience the holy grail of hallucinogenic effects called synethesia. Synethesia is occures when a person experiences a mixture of two senses, like smelling colors. Deep breath in, deep breath out. Ahhh I love the smell of yellow in the morning.


The indigenous Mexicans also knew how to have a good time. They would use the plant Peyote, a spinless cactus to cure ailments like depression, toothache, and even pain during childbirth. Peyote contains mescaline, a natural psychoactive that binds to the serotonin receptors in the brain and makes the user feel like they are in a euphoric state. There is much controversy over the use of peyote today becuase law makers consider it a dangerous substance but native people still use it in religious and spiritual ceremonies.


That’s right old people know whats up in the drug world. They’re pros that lived in much freer times than the new millennials and therefore probably have more experience. As far as we know the cave men could have been high as a kite when they painted on those cave walls and ever since then generation after generation have been passing down the tradition of gettin’ weird.


Let’s give the elders a break because they are oldies but goldies who can lend a helping hand if ever their younger counterparts have questions about the world of crazy hallucinogenic drugs. Stay trippy my friends.



If You Got It Flaunt It

Beauty ideals are a big issue here in the United States. Magazines and clothing labels have been criticized for glorifying the toothpicks with makeup on that we refer to as models and for making young girls and women  ashamed of their natural beauty. Recently in US pop culture there has been a delightful outburst of self-love and body confidence as can be seen in Dove soap commercials and even in music. I mean come on, who doesn’t love to jam out to the song “All About that Bass”. (bout that bass, no treble..)


But the dominant idea of what beauty remains to be that slender, tall, and fit bodies are better. But this is not the case in all cultures.

Mursi Lip Stretching

In Southern Ethiopia women take lip enhancements to a new level. The women of the Mursi culture use large clay disks to stretch their lower lips to astonishing lengths. A stretched lip is a sign of sexuality and maturity in this tribe. Perhaps they can also serve dinner off their bottom lips, men always love a woman who can cook.


Mauritanian Gavaging

In the country of Maghreb, in North East Africa the social norm of beauty is the complete opposite of that in the US. Women in this country are actually encouraged to gain as much weight as possible. Maghreb has food shortage problems and so having a fat wife is a sign of wealth. If only that thought process could carry over to America, women across the country would rejoice and eat that second donut. But for these girls eating is more of a chore than a blessing. Young girls are sent away to camps to gavage, the practice of fattening up, where they are forced to eat more than 15,000 calories a day.


Maori Body Scarification

In the Western Pacific creativity and and freedom of expression is highly encouraged. Women undergo painful skin scarification that leaves welts in intricate patterns on their skin. These tattoos of sorts are symbols of social status and a connection to the gods both of which are very attractive qualities to their people. I once burned my arm while baking cookies in the oven, does that count as an ancestry to the gods? Good enough for me.

Even the men dawn these markings. During the ritual they are sliced and diced in order to get the raised scars. The marks are said to be the “teeth marks” of the crocodile that swallowed the men during the ritual.


So maybe we aren’t all Barbie girls in a barbie world after all. As you can see beauty comes in all different forms, there is no right and wrong with the way you look because beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. Unless you are Beyonce, then you are definitely right. Beyonce is always right.


Anyone in the Mood for Some Time Travel?

This one is a bit confusing, but astonishing once you grasp the concept, so grab your thinking cap and pull the strap extra tight!

Time is something we all assume to be constant. Sure, the time changes based on your location on the Earth but it is all moving on one continuum on which we base our lives. We do everything in our lives based on time, eat, sleep, go off to school, get married, and die. All of those are based around or can be measured in time. But what if time wasn’t constant, but instead a situational variable.

Based on the theory of relativity, time can be affected based on certain forces of nature. Time will bend when influenced by gravity and velocity, this is called time dilation. This means that time on Earth does not move at the same speed as things in outer space. For example, clocks on the International Space Station do not move as quickly as those here on the home planet. If an astronaut and someone at mission control both set stop watches from the moment of takeoff to the moment of landing, the mission control person’s watch would read as having taken a longer time than the astronaut.


An experiment like this was done but the time difference was only about 0.007 seconds.The time difference would be more dramatic if the ISS was traveling at a higher velocity.This is mind-blowing because this is essentially saying that we on Earth are living “faster” than those farther away from the planet. So an astronaut who is in a shuttle crossing the atmosphere into Earth’s boundaries is essentially time traveling 0.007 seconds into the future.

This is where science enthusiasts and Star Trek fans all around the world rejoice because time travel to the future is a very possible idea. Perhaps not anytime soon and also not to any great time difference but who knows, maybe in a few hundred years we will be able be like to travel a few minutes into the future. And that is something worth geeking-out over.

Check out this video clip to let Stephan Hawking, the super genius, explain this concept to you further.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Did your mother ever grab your ear as a child to scold you, and pinch so hard you swore it would come right off? Never fever children of the future, this worry will never have to cross your mind. Scientists have just the cure, they’ll just grow you a new one.

While this may sound like sound like science fiction, it is a very possible solution to problems cancer and burn victims may face when they lose parts of their face or need skin graphs. Scientists in London have discovered ways to actually grow body parts out of stem cells. For instance a doctor could take stem cells out of a patient and grown in a lab. Then doctors would take the stem cells and use them to cover a frame of an body part, maybe an ear or a nose, and then implant the mold into the patients forearm for further growing.


For now only small things can be fixed with this sort or remedy but with the proper research and funding maybe one day a patient with lung cancer could receive the transplant they need thanks to the help of stem cell research.