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    13 Weird And Wonderful Topics To Become An Expert On Because Why Not

    Impress your friends. Wow your family. Mystify your dates.

    Who says having a hobby means you have to spend 10,000 hours (or dollars, for that matter) on it?

    A hobby can be something as simple as brushing up on a new, intriguing topic — one that just might teach you a lil' bit more about this crazy-big planet of ours.

    Here are some topics that don't require a ton of time or money to become something of an expert on:

    1. Bees

    TBS / Via giphy.com

    About one-third of the world's food supply is made possible by bees' pollination, and that includes your fave produce — from apples and oranges to onions and avocados. Considering how small bees are, that's pretty mind-blowing. With their numbers being threatened by colony collapse disorder, it's a more crucial time than ever to become more of an expert on these mighty lil' guys. Oh, and just FYI, they can recognize individual human faces, so if that doesn't frighten you into learning more about them, I don't know what will.

    Launch your expertise with some help from National Geographic.

    2. Unsolved murders

    Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

    This shit is never not interesting. Let's talk about the death of Ricky McCormick, for starters. In June 1999, the 41-year-old's body was found in a field in Missouri. He was reported missing for only 72 hours, but his body suggested he'd died much earlier. Then in 2011, the FBI revealed two cryptic notes in his handwriting had been found in his pockets, which was creepy because McCormick was practically illiterate, and only knew how to write his own name. YUP. You'll be reading about this stuff voraciously in no time.

    Get started with these unsolved cases.

    3. Royal names

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    It took FIVE DAYS for the House of Windsor to choose the name Louis for their newest lil' prince, whereas my parents were like, "Hmmm, Thomas sounds good, right?" when I popped out. It's a Whole Thing determining royal names, and it'd be fascinating as hell to brush up on how the process works and why it became so strict in the first place. One real issue: They avoid "John," because this is the name of the nemesis of Robin Hood and a Disney lion, hated by the British public to this day.

    Here's everything you need to know about the naming process and how they landed on Louis.

    4. Presidential pets

    obamawhitehouse.archives.gov

    Betcha didn't know that Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, had an opossum as a pet. Or that Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president, had a raccoon named Rebecca that he walked on a leash. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the history of presidential pets, and let's be real: they're the only ones in the White House that all of us can agree are pretty damn awesome.

    Brush up on your knowledge of all of these cuties.

    5. The color blue

    The fascinating history of the color blue and its rise to popularity deserves more of your attention, and if you don't agree, well, "It's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry." And art history! And religion! And ancient Egypt!

    You'll be supplied with tons of fun facts once you start reading up on blue.

    6. Victorian fashion

    en.wikipedia.org

    Why is this something you should become an expert on? Oh, maybe because in the mid-19th century WOMEN WERE LITERALLY BURSTING INTO FLAMES IN THEIR DRESSES. These dresses — worn by mothers, dancers, and duchesses alike — were so flammable, the fire would spread quickly enough to kill entire groups of women in an instant.

    Turns out, there were multiple ways Victorian fashion could kill you, so you have a wealth of eye-opening reading ahead of you.

    7. World capitals

    Efetova / Getty Images

    Sure, maybe you've never left the state of New Jersey, but you'll sound cultured AF if you can rattle off some sentiments about Lima, Peru — like how food has become something of a religion in the city since the mid-1990s — as if you've spent many a summer there indulging in all of the ceviche you could get your hands on.

    Close your eyes, point to one of these capitals, and get to learnin'.

    8. Weird state laws

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    Lull in the conversation at happy hour? Just remind people it's illegal to make glue out of dead skunks in Oklahoma. You're welcome. OK, but really, there are plenty of bonkers laws just like that one in the US that you could become the expert on, and you'd never be short on conversation starters. "You know what I read the other day? In Carmel, California, high heels over two inches are strictly prohibited without a permit. WTF!" —you, the life of the party

    Read up on some other strange state laws, and take this quiz to find out which one your home state still enforces for whatever reason.

    9. Houseplants

    Inats / Getty Images

    Everyone knows houseplants have become super-trendy, but you could know what really makes all of those leafy Instagram icons so special — and how to actually keep them alive. They're full of surprises, too, like the "prayer plant," which earned its nickname from the fact that, at night, its leaves fold upward like a pair of praying hands. Neat, right?

    You'll become an expert in no time with this guide, and then you can test your knowledge of houseplants with this quiz.

    10. Strange food origins

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    ICYMI: Graham crackers and corn flakes were both invented as ways to prevent sexual urges back in the 19th century. Reverend Sylvester Graham went around preaching that a person could become physically ill from sex and masturbation, so he suggested that people curb their sexual desire through a bland diet, specifically with his new snack, graham crackers. His protégé was Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who was equally batshit when it came to views on sex — in addition to eating corn flakes, which he invented, he recommended that boys thread a silver wire through their foreskin to prevent erections and that girls apply carbolic acid to the clitoris to discourage touching. Yeah.

    These bizarre stories behind your favorite foods will keep you busy.

    11. Home ec

    20th Century Fox / Via giphy.com

    Even if you consider yourself a relatively shit-together person, there will still be times when you don't know what the heck you're doing around the house. Understanding the ins and outs of everything from laundry to food safety to bathroom cleaning will ensure you're prepared for any surprise stain or broken toilet lever, and more importantly, will help you feel more at home. Is there a better feeling than that? Knowing you're clean, safe, and cozy in your own space?

    TBH, the best place to learn anything you'd ever want to know about keeping house is Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson.

    12. Grammar

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    OK, yeah, I'm shading y'all a little bit with this one, because if I see one more person on my Facebook news feed write "loose" when they mean "lose," I will riot outside their house. BUT, I'm also very serious about becoming an expert on grammar, because it's important AF: You'll sound more intelligent at work, send the most professional emails, and be able edit your friend's writing with a breeze (and charge them as if you're a copy editor!). Just tackling the difference between "lay" and "lie" would be a total win. Not to mention, grammar saves lives: "Let's eat grandma" vs. "Let's eat, grandma."

    Come. Join the world of grammar nerds.

    13. Pens

    Rachel Miller / BuzzFeed

    If you're like, "I don't care what I write with! Who even handwrites anyway!" then move right along, m'dudes. Pens rule, and there is a serious following around many, many different types. It's fun to test them all out — whether you're bullet journaling or writing down your grocery list or just trying to improve your handwriting — and figure out which one fits your style perfectly, like the wands in Harry Potter, y'know?

    Dive into this guide to pens, and then fight about them with this set of polls.

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