Best and Top of Everything : September 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Top 10 Weirdest Hotels From Around The World

Sleep by itself can be boring; that’s why when you “sleep with someone,” you never just sleep with them.  When you stay at a hotel, that’s really all you need, but it’s never what you want (by itself anyway).  You expect room service, complimentary breakfast, and little soaps and shampoo bottles.  You are paying, in essence, for an experience that is restful more than just rest itself.

For some hotels, the “experience” isn’t limited to just feelings of restfulness; try awe-struck, amused, bewildered, even frightened.  These hotels have uncapped new realms of possibilities, ones that demand attention even if they don’t demand serious business.  Here are ten unusual hotels that will keep you up at night reassessing your preconceptions about this so-called business of “restfulness”.

10.  Dog Bark Park Inn



This bed and breakfast, located in Cottonwood, Idaho, is shaped like a beagle.  Owned by a pair of “chainsaw artists” who claim to have been able to afford such an investment through the “fortune” they made selling wooden dog carvings on QVC, this place is an obsessive dog-lover’s fantasy come true.  Every motif is dog related, from the muzzle you can make yourself at home, to every little fixture and decoration.  There’s even a gift shop where the chainsaw artisans sell their little wooden dog sculptures.

The creepiest part of all has to be the entrance to the B&B, which is via a staircase that appears to enter the dog’s rear quarters.  But then again, that’s exactly where a dog goes whenever he meets someone new.  Interesting side note: their website doesn’t mention their pet policy, as much as their dog-centric theme begs for one (or maybe it’s just begging for a treat).

9.  Safari Land Farm and Guest House



Located in India, in the middle of the Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, this resort offers lodging in the trees.  Literally: you spend the night in a tree house constructed around a hulking agricultural up-growth, like the kind Dad builds in the backyard for his kids.  Unlike the shoddy Home Depot DIY project by which your Dad upheld his manliness, a far-from-home, middle-of-a-jungle aesthetic really brings these lodges to life.  As do the various monkeys, elephants, and other native creatures that happen to casually stroll and perch about.  If you want to truly feel like Mowgli on your next visit to the jungle, this is surely the place to hang up your loincloth.

8.  Capsule Hotels



Ever wondered what it was like to be abducted by aliens, or at the very least just to sleep on a UFO?  Well, these mini-hotels, built from oil rig survival pods, are the closest thing to such an encounter of the third kind.  Found in Den Haag, Netherlands, they rest upon water as easily as they do on land and make lodging accommodations as amphibian as the vessels from which they are derived.  Only in a place where pot brownies are as ubiquitous as paper napkins could someone feel at complete ease stepping out of one of these to get the morning paper.

7.  Drain Pipe Hotel



Like sleeping inside of a giant soda can, these drain pipes-turned-luxury suites are the brainchildren of the Austrians, whose architecture as wonky as their modern art.  How they don’t roll away in the middle of the night must be credit to their weight, as these things boast the comfort factor of solid concrete.

6.  Alcatraz Hotel



If you’ve ever dreamed of sleeping inside of a German prison, but lacked the criminal wherewithal, here’s your chance to do so (although food and lodging in this case aren’t free).  Granted, the luxury factor is dramatically augmented, rooms looking like Ikea and David Lynch teamed up to refurnish an upper-class-catering correctional facility.  The only real hints of prison life come with the crudely spray-painted room numbers and wine bars/concierge desks/etc. which resemble holding cells, solid vertical bars left intact.

Who would’ve thought a yuppie on international business would willingly spend the night in a space once occupied by a homicidal maniac?  Even if a looming, dark uneasiness does hang about the history of such an establishment, a former prison could never be as bad as a college dormitory.

5.  Jumbo Stay



Now sleeping on an airplane can be its singular function.  In Sweden, a hotel in the form of a converted jumbo jet exists, where passengers (as it were) can sleep in private chambers and dine in a swanky-looking lounge, all while parked at an airport with the spectacle of constant arrivals and departures a calming (or perhaps unnerving) atmospheric backdrop.  Luxury class lodgers can even sleep in the cockpit albeit sans (we hope) the ability to make inane, monotonous announcements at regular intervals via the intercom.

4.  Osaka Capsule Inn



In Japan, space is famously limited.  Let these ideas of lofty luxury be one more instance of that fact.  The rooms resemble industry ovens, wherein the roasts, err…residents can sleep peacefully, with an interior control panel, which allows the resident to choose the temperature he wishes to be cooked at.  The image of these things evokes something incredibly bleak and sci-fi, like this hotel is the very source of the city’s power, harvested from “organic” energy sources, sources that never check out on their own volition.  Neat concept though (better one for a movie).

3.  Hotel de Glace



This hotel in Canada is literally a giant igloo; constructed of thick layers of ice, the only things heated are isolated bathrooms (and there are fireplaces in the bedrooms).  If you’re wondering how something like this could endure the seasons, it can’t.  It only lasts from the first week in January to the last in March.  The rooms are kept at subzero temperatures, you sleep on a bed of ice, and if you don’t take advantage of the arctic-strength sleeping bags, hypothermia is a very real possibility.  Sounds like fun!  Pretty as it is, even with the number of weddings that take place there, it really sounds more spectacular than practical.

2.  Hobbit Motel



This is a real thing.  No, your neighbors won’t be unusually short and hairy-footed, but no one’s to stop you from eating six meals a day in the Woodlyn Park main room.  Otherwise, this so-called Hobbit Motel is completely modeled with the Shire, hobbit hometown of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings book series, in mind.  The doors and windows are round, and the actual motel rooms are burrowed in the bosoms of a bucolic hillside, but the fact that this particular motel is located in New Zealand, where the movie franchise was filmed, has “gimmick” written all over it.  Also written: “tourists are suckers”.

1.  Poseidon Undersea Resort



Underwater worlds like that of Atlantis, or the video game Bioshock, or even Star Wars Episode 1 are conjured by the notion of being able to walk, reside, and dwell beneath the ocean.  It seems like a utopian idea–or perhaps dystopian, should the water provide the only remaining refuge in a world ruled by hydrophobic robots/zombies/parasites/etc.  But that escape can be a much milder one should you want to occupy a stationary submarine recreationally.

The Poseidon Undersea Resort offers this possibility.  Located on a private island in Fiji, stayers can see godly beings both terrifying and gorgeous sweep across virtually every part of the hotel, as each toe-shaped room features giant transparent fingernails.  This sounds like the perfect place for surface-resistant scuba-divers, but a little scary for those who remember that scene in one of the Jaws sequels where the shark crashes through that underwater corridor.  But that probably won’t happen; actually, the website lists the various ways in which the Poseidon is “redundantly fail-safe,” although shark resistance isn’t explicitly mentioned.

The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies

The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The White Dragontail
One of those things that you always remember in your life that doesn’t matter where you were or what age you were, is seeing your first butterfly, or more importantly catching your first butterfly! To open my hands and see that beautiful creature I had trapped inside of them is something that is a pure joy to remember. But it seems the butterfly’s that I remember chasing and playing with as a child are nothing compared to this lot….
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
10 – Morpho (Morpho menelaus)–(source)
WIKI: A Morpho butterfly may be one of over 80 species of butterflies in the genus Morpho. They are Neotropical butterflies found mostly in South America as well as Mexico and Central America
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
Golden Marking Swallowtail Butterfly
9 – Golden Marking Swallowtail Butterfly (Teinopalpus imperialis)–(source)
WIKI: The Kaiser-i-Hind is a rare species of swallowtail butterfly found from Nepal and north India east to north Vietnam. The common name literally means “Emperor of India”
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
red-spotted Apollo butterfly
8 – Red-Spotted Apollo Butterfly (Parnassius apollo)–(source)
WIKI: This species is of interest to entomologists due to the variety of subspecies, often only restricted to a specific valley in the Alps. The beautiful Apollo butterfly has long been prized by collectors, who aim to possess as many of the variants as possible.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
Crimson Rose swallowtail butterfly
7 – Crimson Rose swallowtail butterfly (Pachliopta hector)–(source)
WIKI: It is a very striking looking tailed butterfly with prominent white bands on its forewings. Like the Common Rose, this butterfly is also very interesting for the amateur naturalist to observe. The Crimson Rose is very fond of flowers especially Lantana.Nectar appears to be essential for the butterfly and a higher nectar intake is thought to increase egg production.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing
6 – Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (Trogonoptera brookiana)–(source)
WIKI: Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is a distinctive black and electric-green birdwing butterfly from the rainforests in the Thai-Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Natuna, Sumatra, and various small islands west of Sumatra.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The Sylphina Angel
5 – The Sylphina Angel (Chorinea sylphina)–(source)
WIKI: The Sylphina Angel is a species of butterfly of the Riodinidae family. It is found in Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Adults fly in full sunshine, but occasionally settle beneath the leaves of bushes.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The White Dragontail
4 – The White Dragontail (Lamproptera curius)–(source)
WIKI: The White Dragontail is a species of swallowtail native to parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Dragontails genus, Lamproptera, of the Swallowtail family.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The 88 butterfly
3 – The 88 butterfly (Callicore)–(source)
WIKI: Species in this genus are commonly called ”eighty-eights like the related genera Callicore and Perisama, in reference to the characteristic patterns on the hindwing undersides of many. In Diaethria, the pattern consists of black dots surrounded by concentric white and black lines, and typically looks like the numbers “88″ or “89″.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
Blue Clipper butterfly
2 – Blue Clipper butterfly (Parthenos sylvia)–(source)
WIKI: The Clipper (Parthenos sylvia) is a species of nymphalid butterfly found in South and South-East Asia, mostly in forested areas. The Clipper is a fast flying butterfly and has a habit of flying with its wings flapping stiffly between the horizontal position and a few degrees below the horizontal. It may glide between spurts of flapping.
The World’s Top 10 Most Amazing Butterflies
The Glasswinged butterfly
1 –  The Glasswinged butterfly (Greta oto)–(source)
WIKI: The Glasswinged butterfly is a brush-footed butterfly, and is a member of the subfamily Danainae, tribe Ithomiini, subtribe Godyridina. G. oto adults also exhibit a number of interesting behaviors, such as long migrations and lekking among males.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Top 10 Rarest Flowers In The World

Certainly to classify the top ten most rare flowers isn’t easy especially since, according to scientists, more than 270,000 types of flowers exist (which doesn’t include the 10 to 15% of unclassified flowers in remote regions of the world).  Of those that are rare, here are not only the top ten rarest flowers, but the ten with unquestionably the most interesting stories.

10.  Campion (Silene tomentosa)


Only found in Gibraltar, the Campion was once thought to be extinct by the scientific community in 1992, when all traces of the plant vanished.  Then in 1994, a single specimen was discovered by a climber hiking on the high cliffs of Gibraltar.  It was propagated at the Millennium Seed Bank and specimens are now grown at the Almeda Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens in London.  For hanging in there on the solitary cliffs of Gibraltar waiting to be found, the Campion flower comes in at number 10.

9.  The Jade Vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys)


The Jade Vine, known for its spectacular blue-green, claw-shaped flowers, produces a hanging inflorescence of color seldom seen in any other flower.  The flower is pollinated by bats which will hang upside down to drink the nectar.  These rare flowers are now hardly seen in the wild and are believed to be threatened by the deforestation of their natural habitat in the Philippines.  For its beauty to botanists and bats alike, the Jade Vine comes in at number 9.

8.  Parrot’s Beak (Lotus berthelotii)


Classified as exceedingly rare since 1884, the Parrot’s Beak flower is believed to be extinct in the wild, though some individuals believe it may still be alive.  The plant is native to the Canary Islands and is believed to have been originally pollinated by sunbirds which have long gone extinct.  Experiments have been done to see if the flowers could have found new pollinators but, as of 2008, none of these experiments have been successful.  For all the efforts made to take this one back home, the Parrot’s Beak flower makes number 8 on our list of the rarest flowers.

7.  Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus)


You may have seen Chocolate orchids, but have you ever seen or gotten a whiff of Chocolate Cosmos?  It is a flower native to Mexico that has been extinct in the wild for over 100 years.  Still, the species survives as a single, non-fertile clone created in 1902 by propagation.  The flowers are a rich deep-brown color and grow to about 3-4 cm in diameter.  As the name suggests, Chocolate Cosmos emit a delicious vanillin fragrance in the summer (also found in vanilla beans, some coffee beans and some cocoa beans).  For being so rare and almost sweet enough to eat, the Chocolate Cosmos comes in at number 7.

6.  Koki’o (Kokai cookei)


Another rare flower comes from a tree in Hawaii.  Discovered in 1860, the Koki’o tree has proven difficult to propagate and, in 1950, was deemed extinct.  However, 20 years later a sole survivor was found, but was destroyed in a fire in 1978.  As luck would have it, one of the branches was saved and grafted into 23 different trees in various places in Hawaii.  The tree grows to 10-11 meters high and has hundreds of bright, red flowers that mature trees produce annually.  As a flower so willing to adapt, the Koki’o flower comes in at number 6.

5.  Kadupul Flower (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)


This flower is easily cultivated, but is rare for the sole reason that it blooms so rarely.  They are found in Sri Lanka in the wild and have spiritual significance to Buddhists.  When they do bloom, they bloom only at night and then mysteriously wither before dawn.  According to Buddhists, it is believed that when the flower blooms, the Nagas (semi-mythical Sri Lankan tribes) descend from their heavenly abodes to present the flower as a gift to Buddha.  The flowers are oddly scented and produce delicate, white flowers.  The flower also has a rich history in Japan where its name can be translated as “Beauty under the Moon.”  For a flower so shy about blooming and so highly thought of, they take notice on the list at number 5.

4.  Ghost Orchid (Epipogium aphyllum/Dendrophylax lindenii)


Not only rare but fascinating, the Ghost Orchid is a plant that was presumed to be extinct for almost 20 years and only recently materialized again. The plant is so rare because it is near-impossible to propagate. It has no leaves and does not use photosynthesis to manufacture its own food.  It, like the Lady Slipper mentioned below, needs a specific fungus in close contact with its root system to feed it.  The Ghost Orchid can live underground for years and is only found in forests in Cuba, and another variety, in Florida.  The flowers emit fragrant odors and bloom between the months of June and August.  In Cuba they grow on cypress trees in which they appear to float like ghosts, thus the name.  They can only be pollinated here by the giant sphinx moth and if their seeds land on a specific moss.  For being so selective as to their growing conditions, the Ghost Orchid drifts in at number 4.

3.  Yellow and Purple Lady Slippers (Cypripedium calceolus)


A rare wild orchid once found across Europe, Yellow and Purple Lady Slippers are now growing in Britain, but in only one odd location: a golf course.  It has been under strict police protection since 1917 in order to preserve it from people (and golf balls of course).  A single cutting can be sold for $5,000 US, which is unheard of considering how the plant is very difficult to propagate.

Another rare Lady Slipper flower (Cypripedium reginae) is just as difficult to propagate; even Charles Darwin failed to successfully cultivate it.  The seeds of the flower provide no nourishment for the growing plant and so it lives in a symbiotic relationship with a specific type of fungus that nourishes it.  Once the plant has reached maturity, the fungus lives off the adult plant.  The flower has dark purple to almost red-brown tendrils and bright-yellow “slipper or moccasin” shaped flowers. For being so rare, so temperamental, and so fungus-friendly, the Yellow and Purple Lady Slippers dance in at number 3.

2.  Youtan Poluo (no scientific name)


Discovered by a Chinese farmer named Mr. Ding when he found it growing in his steel pipes, and then later by a Chinese nun named Lushan who found it growing under her washing machine, the mysterious Youtan Poluo has no scientific name and is made up of 28 pieces of minuscule, white sweet-smelling flowers measuring a mere 1mm.  It is a flower that has been mentioned in Indian myth and was believed to only bloom when the Sage King of the future visits the present world.  In Sanskrit the name means “an auspicious flower from heaven”.  The flower is also mentioned in Buddhist scriptures and botanical experts say that the flower only blooms once every 3000 years (now how would they know that?).  For blooming but every 3 millenniums, the Youtan Poluo flower is quite a wonder at number 2.

1.  The Corpse Flower (Amorphophallus titanum)


Native to Sumatra, this rare and striking plant has flowers that reach up to 6 feet in height and 3 feet in diameter.  The Corpse Flower is found on low-lying rainforest floors in Indonesia and looks like something out of the prehistoric age (or perhaps a Star Trek episode).  It is considered the world’s rarest, largest, and most endangered flower.  Also known as Rafflesia, its survival is interdependent with the Tetrastigma vine.  Bodiless, stemless, leafless and rootless, it requires the vine for its nourishment and support.  It emits a pungent rotten flesh smell (hence the name, “Corpse Flower”) which attracts flies and beetles to pollinate it.  The flower blooms for about a week before dying.  For breaking the stereotype of all that a flower is or should be, the Corpse Flower comes in at number 1 for the world’s most rare flower.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Top 10 Things China Invented First

Now, I love Chinese food. I mean, who doesn’t? Weird people who don’t like lots of soy sauce and yummy carbs like rice and rice noodles? But what have the Chinese given to us, really? Fortune cookies? Jokes about children working in sweatshops? I’d like to think that they have accomplished more than that in their long history, and sure enough, they have…

(Editor’s note: The title was changed to Things China Invented First, from Things China Did First – we trust this still holds the spirit of the list.)

10. Government-Issued Paper Money

Chinese Paper Currency

Paper money was first introduced in the 7th century as a way for wealthy merchants to avoid having to carry large quantities of heavy copper coins. Original banknotes were essentially bank slips with the amount of total money available to the merchant written on them, like our deposit receipts. These notes were initially used only by the very wealthy, but eventually they were circulated by the Song Dynasty when there was a shortage of copper coins. They were called jiaozi. These notes did not replace copper coins- they were organized by region (rather than having a national currency) and were more like credit notes with a time limit. A national currency was introduced in the 11th century using another Chinese original, woodblock printing.

9. Printing

The Chinese initially developed two types of printing: woodblock printing and movable type. Woodblock printing is created by carving a design or character text into a block of wood, covering the relief with dye, and printing the relief onto the fabric or paper. The earliest existing example of woodblock printing is on a piece of hemp paper, dating from around 660 AD. It is also the medium of choice for the oldest printed book, the Diamond Sutra printed in 868 AD during the Tang Dynasty.

The other type of printing is the predecessor of typesetting, called movable type. It was a process in the making for 630 years. It began as a theory by Chinese scientist, Shen Kuo during the Song Dynasty in 1088 AD. The theory wasn’t put into practice until 1298 AD when official Wang Zhen of the Yuan Dynasty created a model arranging the characters by rhyme scheme on a round table with compartments for the characters. In 1490, Hua Sui perfected movable type by putting the characters on bronze blocks instead of wood or clay. The final tweak was added in 1718 when porcelain enamel was used.

8. Paper

If you’re going to print, then you need paper, or some sort of printable medium, and pulp paper became popular because it was cheaper and faster to make than other mediums, such as silk, bamboo strips, or clay tablets. There is evidence of pulp paper making that dates back to the 2nd century BC. Then, in 105 AD, a Han court eunuch named Cai Lun improved the process (he is often credited as the inventor of paper). His process involved mashing up tree bark, hemp, linen and fishing nets and adding water until a wooden frame with a sieve of interwoven weeds could be immersed and removed from the mixture. The frame was then hung out to dry and bleached in the sunlight.

7. Gunpowder

Gun Powder

Gunpowder’s invention was actually an accident by Chinese alchemists in the 9th century. One of its first uses outside of the lab was for fireworks, which were used to ward off evil spirits starting in the 10th century. However, since at least 1044, it has been used as the destructive and explosive component that we all have come to know. It was originally used in flamethrowers (no joke), flame tipped arrows, and a “gunpowder-whip-arrow,” for which I can’t think of a modern equivalent. The first firearms did not appear until the 13 century, and were used heavily by the Mongols in their exploits. The first recorded formula for gunpowder was relatively tame as it was not capable of exploding but still very flammable. By the 15th century though, they had perfected 6 formulas for gunpowder, some with up to 91% nitrate, the chemical that makes gunpowder go BOOM.

6. Compass

Ancient compass

The first iron compasses created during the Han Dynasty  were not used for navigation. In fact, they were used to divine the future in large bowl-like compasses that used a spoon-like instrument. A thermoremanence compass, which uses a heated metal object in water to produce a magnetic force, was documented in 1044. There was also the South Pointing Chariot, circa 3rd century AD, which was a figure on a chariot that would always point south, originally without the use of magnets. This compass instead operated on a differential gear system, much like you find in a car now. Shen Kuo was able to describe magnetic declination and the use of a magnetic needle compass in 1088, while Zhu Yu offered the use of the true north compass for naval use in 1119.

5. Coffins, Tree coffins, Urns

Ancient chinese coffin

The Chinese ancients seem to have been some of the first who were concerned with burying their dead. Chinese emphasis on showing respect for elders and ancestors by caring for your own body (which they provided you with by giving you life) was just as important as showing respect for theirs when they passed away. Evidence for the earliest coffins and urns have been found in China. The oldest coffin is dated around 5000 BC and holds a four year old girl. The thickness of a coffin and the number of coffins were reflections of wealth or nobility. Also, the earliest known tree trunk coffins, or boat coffins, were of the Songze culture and the Dawenkou culture, recorded dates between 4000-3000 BC and 4100-2600 BC respectively.

4. Fork and Chopstick

Chinese Forks

While many people attend an Asian restaurant and attempt to eat with the traditional chopsticks, it would actually be more traditional to use the fork that they provide for their diners. Bone forks have been discovered at multiple burial sites dating from the Xia Dynasty, which was in power from 4205-1760 BC. Europeans wouldn’t start using forks until roughly 4000 years later. Forks were an exclusive dining tool for the ruling class, and came in two- and three-pronged varieties like they do now. However, due to the nature of Chinese food customs, chopsticks became popular and much easier to come by. Because Chinese culture did not permit that meats should resemble their living form, it was cut into bite-sized pieces. Also, the communal nature of Chinese eating habits made chopsticks an easier tool to maneuver. Not only that, but the chopstick could pick up or divide virtually any cuisine that was presented, thereby making it a much more effective utensil than the fork.

3. Holistic Health

Ancient Chinese Medicine

Even more surprising to me than the invention of the fork, was that Chinese medicine was on to some major health points before their time, such as good health through proper diet. In the 4th century, the royal courts had Imperial Dieticians to guide the royal family down the road to healthy eating. In the Han Dynasty, Zhang Zhongjing found out through trial and error that certain foods would address symptoms of poor health. Imperial Dietician Hu Sihui published a similar book in 1330 that put together information on healthy diets dating from the 3rd century.

Not only were they proponents of a variable diet, they were also the first endocrinologists, meaning that they were clued in to and could address hormone imbalances before everyone else. In 1110 BC, they were able to extract sex hormones from urine using gypsum and natural soaps like saponin. They could then use these extracted hormones to treat a wide variety of sex hormone issues, from erectile dysfunction to menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea).

2. Restaurant Menu

Chinese Menu

The biggest reason that the Chinese beat other cultures to the finish line here is because they already had a handle on paper by the time the Song Dynasty rolled around. Due to even ancient China’s expansive populated regions that would trade with each other, hungry merchants could find an abundance of food to eat, but were not familiar with a lot of it. Thus, the menu was born to provide a guide for hungry merchants and foreign travelers. Menus popped up where ever food was sold: temples, brothels, theaters, and tea houses as well as typical food stalls and restaurants.

1. Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper

The classic over versus under debate is much older than previously thought. Its first mention is by official Yan Zhitui in 589 BC, again because the Chinese were ahead of the game when it came to paper manufacturing. Their purpose is stated quite clearly by an Arab visitor in 851 AD, who remarks that the Chinese wipe themselves with paper, while the rest of the world was using water, their hands, wood shavings, lace, or the ever popular Roman “sponge on a stick.” The Chinese even one-upped themselves, and proceeded to perfume their poo paper for the royal family in 1393. (Actual ancient toilet paper not represented in art above.)