NPR Diversions

This is your brain making things up.

What you see isn't really there.

Even if I tell you "this isn't what you think," you'll think it anyway — until I make a simple move, and suddenly — you know.

In case you haven't fallen for its charms yet, there's a video of three fun guys from Utah and their friends jumping into the "world's biggest pile of leaves" that's getting lots of views these days.

You can see their high jinks here.

I'm going to take you somewhere, but before I do, I should warn you that there's something not quite right about what you'll see. This place I'm going to show you will be astonishingly beautiful. It will be cold. It will be wet. But it will also be a touch — more than a touch — mysterious. So watch carefully.

Red Bull Stratos / Associated Press

More than 7 million people were watching as Felix Baumgartner sat at the edge of his space capsule yesterday 24 miles off the ground and got ready to jump, in what was known as the "Red Bull Stratos" project, better known as the "space jump."

The Associated Press

ROSWELL, N.M. ­– Extreme athlete and skydiver Felix Baumgartner has canceled his planned death-defying 23-mile free fall into the New Mexico desert because of high winds.

On Oct. 8, Felix Baumgartner is going to strap himself into a specially pressurized capsule, ascend 120,000 feet into the air above New Mexico using a helium balloon, open the door - and jump out.

Don't worry, he's been practicing.

This past weekend was an odd one on the campaign trail. First, as NPR's Don Gonyea reported on Morning Edition, a muscled pizza man was so excited to see President Obama, he hugged him and picked him up a full foot off the ground.

Then there's Vice President Joe Biden who, um, canoodled with a biker lady at a Seaman, Ohio diner.

The picture captured by Carolyn Kaster of the Associated Press is priceless:

On-air challenge: Answer riddles from The Amusing Puzzle Book, published circa the 1840s:

  • I know a word of letters three, add two, and fewer there will be.
  • Without a bridle or a saddle, across a thing I ride astraddle. And those I ride, by help of me, though almost blind, are made to see.
  • What is that which has been tomorrow and will be yesterday?
  • Clothed in yellow, red and green, I prate before the king and queen. Of neither house nor land possessed, by lords and ladies, I'm caressed.

Sometimes we all need a break from the serious news. There's no better way to accomplish that today than to tell you that two cheetah cubs are making their public debut at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.

As the National Zoo reports, their journey is an improbable one. They were born April 23 by c-section and were abandoned by their mother. But they were hand-raised by zoo staff and today, they were out for world to see them.

This photo looks like two images stitched together; above is a normal forest, and below, a strange, Martian one. But it's a single image from a single place and time — the hills of western Hungary, six months after a devastating industrial accident.

Here's what got Nagai Hideyuki excited. Hideyuki lives in Tokyo. He's now 21. This photo was taken on the other side of the world, somewhere in Europe. What you see here is a street and a plain stone bench, both partially covered by a chalk drawing. The drawing disappears in places and at one point seems to bump into a metal pole.

Here's what it looks like when about 18-minutes worth of professional fireworks all go up at once.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune says, the "city's big kaboom ka-bombed on Wednesday night."

The Associated Press

Maybe you're planning your summer vacation and want something totally impractical to worry about (just to keep your mind off of real problems ... like money, say). And, we've still got more than a month to go to Discovery Channel's 'Shark Week', but ...

Great white sharks have been seen off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass; and on e off the coast near San Diego.

Mark Dermul is a serious Star Wars fan. He was just 7 years old in 1977 when the original movie hit the theaters. As soon as the huge Star Destroyer flew across the opening scene, he was hooked.

"It hasn't left me," he says. At 42, Dermul now guides tours throughout North Africa, visiting sites that were featured in the blockbuster films.

On one 2010 trip back to planet Tatooine — OK, Tunisia — he and his tour group noticed that Luke Skywalker's boyhood home was decaying. They jumped into hyperspace — OK, the Internet — to save it.

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