Monday, December 26, 2011


Mice, whales, elephants, giraffes, and humans all have seven neck vertebra

It is estimated that 60 percent of home smoke detectors in use do not work because they don't have a battery in them or the battery in the detector no longer has any potency

Although each adult and independent juvenile forages alone, sea otters tend to rest together in single-sex groups called rafts. A raft typically contains 10 to 100 animals, with male rafts being larger than female ones. The largest raft ever seen contained over 2000 sea otters. To keep from drifting out to sea when resting and eating, sea otters may wrap themselves in kelp

In cooking, the term chiffonade means to slice into very thin strips or shreds. Literally translated from French, chiffonade means "made of rags"

We rely on the sun's output remaining steady for our climate to support life on Earth. If the sun's energy output would decreased by one-tenth, the entire Earth would be covered in ice one mile thick; if the sun's energy increased by 30 percent, all life on Earth would be burnt to a cinder

Iridescent beetle shells were the source of the earliest eye glitter ever used — devised by the ancient Egyptians  
Common beetle with colorful shell
More than 50 percent of the people who are bitten by venomous snakes in the United States and who go untreated still survive - Half of them are intoxicated at the time of the strike

Camel milk is the only milk that doesn't curdle when boiled

Taxi drivers in London, England are required to pass a training test based upon "The Blue Book." Preparation for this test takes between two to four years. Of ten who start, eight or nine drop out before completion  
Unlike taxis in the United States that are typically bright yellow to make them easier to spot amid heavy traffic and the colors of other cars, cabs in Britain are black
January 1, 1936: The first pop music chart based on national sales was published by "Billboard" magazine. Joe Venuti, jazz violinist, was at the top of the chart with a song called, "Stop! Look! Listen!"   

The first drive-in service and petrol station in the United States was opened by Gulf Oil Company - on December 1, 1913, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The world's rarest gem is Painite- before 2005, only 25 crystals had ever been found. It was first found in Myanmar by British mineralogist and gem dealer Arthur C.D. Pain in the 1950s. When it was confirmed as a new mineral species, the mineral was named after him

In 1931, an industrialist named Robert Ilg built a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa outside Chicago and lived in it for several years

The scientific name for the human thumb is "pollex"  

Ivory Soap was originally named P&G White Soap. In 1879, Harley Proctor found the new name during a reading in church of the 45th Psalm of the Bible: "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad"

Anthropologists believe that people have been making and wearing shoes for more than 10,000 years. The Egyptians wore sandals woven from papyrus leaves   

New York City, named by Americans as the most dangerous, least attractive, and rudest city in a 2008 poll, was also Americans’ top choice as the city where they would most like to vacation or reside 

Congress passed a law prohibiting American vessels from supplying slaves to other countries on March 22, 1794.  Slavery was not prohibited in the United States until the American Civil War ended in 1865

When we smile broadly, we use seventeen muscles  

In May, a man exploring a rural property in Lebanon, Oregon came across what appeared to be a classic World War II-era bomb, but, unfamiliar with the ordnance, he became only the most recent person to make the completely unwise decision to load it into his vehicle and drive to a police station (in Corvallis). Officers at the station reacted predictably and logically: They fled the room, closed down the streets around the station, and called the nearest bomb squad, which later detonated it safely 

Reports still frequently emerge of homeowners battling household pests, yet only creating an even worse problem (as if the pests ultimately outsmart them).  In recent cases, for example, Robert Hughes tried to oust the squirrels from his townhome in Richton Park, Illinois in March, but his smoke bomb badly damaged his unit and his neighbor's. (Firefighters had to rip open the roof in the two units to battle the blaze.) Two weeks after that, in Mesa, Ariz., a man set his attic on fire trying to get rid of a beehive with brake fluid and a cigarette lighter  

Beauty contests for camels are very big business in Saudi Arabia, but the first one in Turkey (in Selcuk) was held in January 2011 and featured considerably lower-market camels. (The Turkish winner had been purchased for the equivalent of $26,000; a Saudi camel once won $10 million in a single show.) Judges look for muscle tone, elegance of tail wag, and tooth quality, according to a January Wall Street Journal dispatch. Charisma is also important, according to one judge. "Camels," he said, "realize that people are watching them [and] are trying to pose." "Some will stop, open their back legs, and wave their tail, or [throw] their head back and moan . . . this is the kind of posing we [judges] are looking for"

Monday, December 19, 2011


Tooth enamel is the hardest substance manufactured by the human body

Despite its popularity as a seasoning, basil has a controversial history. Basil was a sacred plant in ancient Hindu religion, and it was handled warily by European herbalists of the Middle Ages, who feared it as a scorpion breeder

The term "rhinestone," from the French caillou du Rhin, came to be because the colorless, hard-glass artificial gems were originally made at Strasbourg (on the Rhine)

A queen bee may lay as many as 3,000 eggs in a single day - Below is a video of a Honeybee Queen laying her eggs:

Pharaoh ants are a serious nuisance pest in hospitals, rest homes, apartments, hotels, grocery stores, and other buildings. They feed on a wide variety of foods including soft drinks, greases, jellies, honey, shortening, peanut butter, fruit juices, baked goods, dead insects, and even shoe polish. Also, pharaoh ants gnaw holes in silk, rayon, and rubber goods. In hospitals, these foraging ants have been found in surgical wounds, I.V. solutions, sealed packs of sterile dressing, water in flower displays, and water pitchers. Pharoah ants mechanically transmit diseases and contaminate sterile materials

Beets reminded early cooks of a bleeding animal when they cut them open, so they started calling them "beets." This was derived from the French word bĂȘte, meaning "beast"  

It costs more to buy a new car today in the United States than it cost Christopher Columbus to equip and undertake three voyages to and from the "New World"

Mormon leader Brigham Young had 57 children with 16 of his 27 wives
A picture of just the daughters of Brigham Young
There are over 375 organizations around the world devoted to the fictional Sherlock Holmes. The largest group is the Japan Sherlock Holmes Club with over 1,200 members

Disney World in Orlando, Florida covers 30,500 acres (46 square miles), making it twice the size of the island of Manhattan 

A "claque" is a group of people hired to applaud an act or performer  

The easiest sound for the human ear to hear, and those which carry best when pronounced, are, in order, "ah," "aw," "eh," and "oo"

A recent U.S. study purports that there are fewer births 9 months after a heat wave. The study found that an increase of 12 degrees Celsius (approximately 21.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer temperatures reduces births the following spring by up to 6 percent. Researchers at Kinsey Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University concluded that high temperatures could reduce people's sense of well-being, which could result in a reduction in sexual interest. Another study found lower sperm counts and higher rates of miscarriage during hot weather     

According to a pet owner survey, 79% of Americans give their dogs holiday and/or birthday presents 

Children born in the month of May are on the average 200 grams heavier at birth than children born in any other month 

The are more different kinds of insects on existence today than the total of all kinds of other animals put together

Green tea has 50% more vitamin C than black tea  

Sharks and rays are the only animals known to not succumb to cancer. Scientists believe this is related to the fact that they have no bone — only cartilage 

It may take longer than two days for a chick to break out of its shell
A black-backed gull chick looks on as a sibling pecks at freedom
Nyctitropism is the tendency of the leaves or petals of certain plants to assume a different position at night

Type O is the most common blood type in the world. Type AB is the rarest. There is also a subtype called A-H, but to date, only three people in the world are known to have it  

In March, Dennis Mulholland, 67, of Paisley, Scotland, encountered a three-foot-long California king snake hiding in the bowl after escaping from elsewhere in the building. In December a woman in Edmond, Oklahoma had a similar experience with a squirrel, which, hypothesized police, might have crawled through a sewer drain

Recent inventories made by police of suspects' vaginas included LSD in aluminum foil and marijuana in two sandwich bags (woman in Englewood, Florida, January); pills (woman in Manatee County, Florida, February); heroin (woman in Scranton, Pennsylvania, March); a fraudulent driver's license and credit card
(woman in Lee County, Florida., May); and pills and a knife (woman in Fort Myers, Florida., May). Rectal safe-keeping included a man with a baggie of marijuana (Louisville, Kentucky, March); a man with a marijuana pipe (Port St. Lucie, Florida, May), and a man with 30 items inside a condom (Sarasota, Florida, February), including a syringe, lip balm, six matches, a cigarette, 17 pills, and a CVS receipt and coupon

Christopher Bjerkness, 33, was arrested in May in Duluth, Minnesota and charged with burglary after being discovered mid-day in the physical-therapy room at the Chester Creek Academy. The room contained inflatable exercise balls that appeared to be undisturbed, but Bjerkness has been arrested at least twice before, in 2005 and 2009, because of his self-described compulsion to slash inflatable balls

David Truscott, 41, was convicted in Britain's Truro Crown Court in February of violating a restraining order to keep away from the Woodbury House Farm in Redruth, Cornwall, after being caught there two times previously wallowing in the farm's manure pit while masturbating. Said the prosecutor, "This is the only place [Truscott] seeks to gratify himself in this particular manner"

Monday, December 12, 2011


On January 7, 1894 W.K. Dickson received a patent for motion picture film. A demonstration included a 47-frame film (about 2 seconds) that showed a man sneezing  (Below, from the Library of Congress, is that film)

No two-cycle engines are allowed in Singapore. The license fee for a new car is small, about $5, but as the vehicle grows older, the fee increases. When the auto reaches 8 years old, it is no longer allowed on the streets. This is opposite of the license-fee structure in the U.S. While strict, Singapore's auto law has greatly reduced air pollution in the country

The land owned by the U.S. Federal government is about 651 million acres — about 30% of the country's total 

An ox is a castrated bull. A mule is a sterile cross between a male ass and a female horse

A hibernating woodchuck breathes only ten times per hour. An active woodchuck breathes 2,100 times an hour
A North American brown and grey woodchuck
A salt mine in the Polish town of Wieliczka, near Cracow, that has been in operation for nearly 1,000 years

The average person's hand flexes its finger joints 25 million times during a lifetime

Less than half (40%) of child psychologists in the U.S. advise parents of preschoolers to “confirm Santa’s existence” 
Globally, the odds of being killed by falling out of bed are one in two million

The first product that SONY came out with was the rice cooker - the company is now more famous as a manufacturer and global distributor of high-definition televisions, radios, mobile phones, DVD players, and cameras, among other products
The original SONY Rice Cooker, circa 1946
Buttermilk does not contain any butter

All human babies are color blind when they are born

A one ounce milk chocolate bar has 6 mg of caffeine

What is probably the largest living organism on earth has been discovered in the Malheur National Forest in eastern Oregon. A fungus living three feet underground is estimated to cover 2,200 acres. After testing samples from various locations, scientists say it is all one organism.   Officially known as Armillaria ostoyae, or the honey mushroom, the fungus is 3.5 miles across and takes up 1,665 football fields. The small mushrooms visible above ground are only the tip of the iceberg. Experts estimate that the giant mushroom is at least 2,400 years old, but could be 7,200 years old

Dirty snow melts faster than clean

Cold water weighs more than hot water

Orca whales are voluntary breathers. For this reason, they sleep with only half of their brain at one time. The other half remains alert to regulate breathing. Resident whales (a type of Orca) typically remain near the surface, breathing and swimming in a pattern. When traveling together, resident pods have been observed to breathe in unison. Although it is not known why this occurs, it could be a way of helping the pod keep tabs on one another
The dorsal fin of the Resident whale is more rounded than the dorsal of other Orca whales
The Roman Catholic population of the world is larger than that of all other Christian sects combined

Carrageenan is a common ingredient used in ice cream and toothpaste. Carrageenan is seaweed — a purple, edible seaweed, also known as Irish moss, that's found along the coasts of Northern Europe and North America. It is used as a suspending agent in foods, pharmaceuticals, and liquids, as a clarifying agent for beverages, and in controlling crystal growth in frozen confections

Mr. P.J. Tierney, credited as the "father of the modern diner," died of indigestion in 1917 after eating at a diner

More than two-thirds of Earth's land surface lies north of the equator

Living creatures create tiny weather systems called microclimates in their nests and burrows. For instance, bees fan their wings at the hive entrance during hot weather. This makes a cooling draft blow through the hive 

Playing cards were invented by the Chinese as early as 1120

A male kangaroo is called a boomer, and a female is called a flyer.  Baby kangaroos are collectively called Joeys

Gasoline was once sold in small bottles as a cure for lice

Flatfish are born with one eye on each side of their heads, giving it an odd appearance as its head accommodates a gradual flattening of the mouth and eyes.  As the fish matures, the eyes and mouth move allowing the fish to lie on the ocean floor and look up to find food

A 53-year-old man with failing eyesight and who had recently undergone intestinal surgery told Sonoma, California police that on Sunday afternoon, May 1, 2011 a woman had come to his home and instructed him to drop his pants and get face-down on the bed so that she could administer an enema. He said he assumed his doctor had sent her and thus complied, and it was over in two minutes, and she was gone. The doctor later said he had no idea who the woman was. (In the 1970s, in the Champaign, Illinois area, Michael Kenyon operated similarly as the "Illinois Enema Bandit" --and inspired the late Frank Zappa's "Illinois Enema Bandit Blues)

Several funeral homes in the United States have drive-thru windows to serve rushed mourners or those stressed by the parlor experience. "Not quite as emotional," said one visitor to the Robert L. Adams Mortuary in Compton, California referring to the need not to linger in the queue of bereaved, idling motorists. The Adams facility was even more popular during the peak of gang murders in the area, according to an April Los Angeles Times report, because the drive-thru window's bulletproof glass rendered unnecessary the precarious indoor service in which gangbangers tried to further desecrate late rivals' corpses

In April, two Italian entrepreneurs introduced a perfume meant to evoke the scents of a person's blood, varying by type (A, B, AB, O)--but with no actual blood. A prominent member of the U.S. "vampire community" fondly described the "intriguing" olfactory sensations of Type B (the "black cherry, pomegranate, and patchouli infusions") and Type O ("raspberry, rose hips, and birch"). Another "vampirist" called the whole idea "cheesy"

Monday, December 5, 2011


In the French court of Louis XI, the refined ladies lived mainly on soup because they believed that excessive chewing would cause them to develop premature facial wrinkles

The World's Largest Catsup Bottle stands proudly next to Route 159, just south of downtown Collinsville, Illinois. This unique, 170-foot-tall water tower was built in 1949 by W.E. Caldwell Company for the G.S. Suppiger catsup bottling plant. In 1995, due largely to the efforts of the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group, this piece of local history was saved from demolition and beautifully restored to its original appearance

Swimming pools in the U.S. contain enough water to cover the city of San Francisco with a layer of water about 7 feet deep

Brain-wave activity in humans changes when we catch the punch line of a joke 

One of the fastest of all fish in the sea is the swordfish, also known as Broadbill in some countries, streaming forward at speeds that average 50 miles per hour and able to reach nearly 65 miles an hour  (Pictured below a male swordfish jumps out of the water, which is a regular behavior for these fish that researchers believe is a way for the animal to get rid of pests)

 It is estimated that 1.8 billion light bulbs are manufactured each year in the United States

Walt Disney World is home to the largest working wardrobe in the world with over 2.5 million costumes in its inventory

According to the U.S. Defense department, the Pentagon's many libraries support personnel in research and completion of their work. The Army Library alone provides 300,000 publications and 1,700 periodicals in various languages

The human brain is insensitive to pain. The suffering of a headache come not from the organ itself but from the nerve and muscles lining it

A bee could travel 4 million miles (6.5 million km) at 7 mph (11 km/h) on the energy it would obtain from 1 gallon (3.785 liters) of nectar

Small animals like bats and shrews consume up to one and one half times their body weight in food every day

Most people's legs are slightly different lengths

The temperature of lava is dependent on the geographic location. For example, Hawaiian lava can be as hot as 2,140 degrees Fahrenheit. By contrast, lava from mountains like Mount St. Helen's can be several hundred degrees cooler

In the early 1950s, Denver architect Temple H. Buell, often called the Father of the Mall, conceived of and built one of the first shopping malls in the U.S.: the Cherry Creek Mall
A pastoral garden was created at the center of the mall and is pictured above, circa 1952
Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' cloakroom in the ancestral castle of Blenheim. His mother was attending a formal ball there when she prematurely delivered

On TV game shows, a contestant who freezes before the camera is called a "Bambi," in reference to a deer paralyzed by the glare of headlights

The first macaroni factory in the United States was established in 1848. It was started by Antoine Zegera in Brooklyn, New York

A snake is capable of eating an animal four times larger than the width of its own head  (Pictured below a brown water snake eats a catfish, stretching it's mouth wider than its own head)
Comets speed up as they approach the Sun – sometimes reaching speeds of over a million miles per hour. Far away from the Sun, speeds drop, perhaps down to as little as 700 miles per hour

The male moose sheds its antlers every winter and grows a new set the following year  (Females do not have antlers)

Helen Keller (1880-1968), blind and deaf from an early age, developed her sense of smell so finely that she could identify friends by their personal odors

The language of Taki, spoken in parts of French Guinea, consists of only 340 words

More than two-thirds of Earth's land surface lies north of the equator

On the average, women dream more than men and children dream more than adults. Overall, more people dream in black-and-white than in color

The Hollywood sign was first erected in 1923. Conceived as a real estate ad, it originally read Hollywoodland. The sign stands 50 feet tall, stretches 450 feet across, weighs 450,000 pounds

The longstanding springtime culinary tradition of urine-soaked eggs endures, in Dongyang, China, according to a March 2011 CNN dispatch. Prepubescent boys contribute their urine (apparently without inhibition) by filling containers at schools, and the eggs are boiled according to recipe and sold for the equivalent of about 23
cents each. Many residents consider the tradition gross, but for devotees, it represents, as one said, "the [joyous] smell of spring"

The port town of Kumai, Borneo, consists of low-rise shops and houses serving a population of 20,000 but also many tall, windowless box buildings perforated with small holes. The structures are actually bird houses, for the town's chief industry is harvesting the nests of the hummingbird-like swiftlet, constructed of its own saliva, which, properly processed, yields a sweet-tasting paste with alleged medicinal qualities and highly revered throughout Asia 

In January 2011, while the Texas Legislature debated budget cuts that would almost certainly cost Allen High School (just north of Dallas) at least $18 million and require layoffs of teachers and other school personnel, construction was continuing on the school's new $60 million football stadium 

Monday, November 28, 2011


In the United States, hail destroys hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of crops and property each year, a greater toll than that taken by tornadoes

Nearly two-thirds of professional hockey players have lost at least one tooth playing the sport

The onion is a lily, botanically

Most have heard the terms "rural," "urban" and suburbia" but the term less frequently heard, "Exurbia," refers to the mostly rural residential area beyond the suburbs of a city
A single family lives in this "exurban" home along a rural route in the United States' Southwest
Florence Harding, wife of Warren G. Harding, was the first divorcee to live in the White House as First Lady of the United States

Eleven days before the statute of limitations was to expire on the Brink's robbery in Boston, Massachusetts, that netted nearly $3 million in January 1950, one of the robbers confessed and betrayed his fellow robbers - Only $50,000 was ever recovered and it cost the government's taxpaying citizens $5 million for the investigation, trial and incarceration of the suspects
Before the Industrial Revolution, raw milk was an everyday commodity in the United States. This means that the milk was not pasteurized.  New methods of processing milk such as pasteurization led to the banning of raw milk.  In many countries, you’ll find bottles of raw milk offered. In the U.S., there is a continuous debate raging on about the healthfulness of raw milk, while others insist that it is full of germs. In Europe, Asia, Africa, and other countries, you’ll often find raw milk and even raw cheese available. In the U.S., only 28 states allow the consumption of raw milk. It is banned in Canada.  The consumption of raw milk in the U.S. is usually done through cow shares (where consumers own part of a cow and share the costs and the milk it produces)
Raw milk is sometimes offered for sale in health food and food cooperative stores in states in the U.S.
According to a 1999 survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, of those people who snore, 19% snore so loudly that they can be heard through a closed door

Statistically, traveling by air is the safest means of transportation. Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport handles more than 73 million passengers a year, making it the busiest airport in the world - It has been deemed the busiest airport in the world since 1998 as deemed by the in Switzerland

The most complex automobile interchange of paths in all ways is located in Texas - interstate 10 highway interchange, pictured below:

The world's first patent was granted in 1421 to architect Filippo Brunelleschi in Florence to make a barge crane to transport marble

Lemon sharks grow a new set of teeth every two weeks. They grow more than 24,000 new teeth every year

The caterpillar has more than 2,000 muscles. Watch the video below to see a time-lapse version of how a caterpillar turns into a butterfly:

The modern zipper, the Talon Slide Fastener, was invented in 1913 but didn't catch on until after World War I. The first dresses incorporating the zipper appeared in the 1930s

In 1976, a Los Angeles secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50-pound rock. The ceremony was witnessed by more than twenty people.  In June 2011, California's Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage
“Soft Drink” refers to nearly all beverages that do not contain significant amounts of alcohol (hard drinks).
The term “soft drink” though is now typically used exclusively for flavored carbonated beverages.  This is actually due to advertising.  Flavored carbonated beverage makers were having difficulty creating national advertisements due to the fact that what you call their product varies from place to place.  For instance, in parts of the United States and Canada, flavored carbonated beverages are referred to as “pop”; in other parts “soda”; in yet other parts “coke”; and there are a variety of other names commonly used as well.  Then if we go international with the advertisements, in England these drinks are called “fizzy drinks”; in Ireland sometimes “minerals”.  To account for the fact that they can’t refer to their product in the generic sense on national advertisements, because of these varied terms, these manufactures have chosen the term “soft drink” to be more or less a universal term for flavored carbonated beverages.

Interestingly, according to a study done in 2006, most carbonated “soft” drinks actually do contain a little alcohol.  In older methods of introducing the CO2 to the drink, this was resulting from natural fermentation, similar to how most beer gets its alcohol.  However, with modern methods of introducing CO2 to the drink, this is not an issue; yet measurable amounts of alcohol remain.  This is due to the fermentation of sugars in the non-sterile environment of the drink.   In some types of soda-pop, additional alcohol is also introduced due to the fact that alcohol is used in the preparation of some of the flavor extracts.  However, before anyone starts campaigning to make soda-pop illegal for kids due to the alcohol content, it should be noted that a typical container of yogurt of similar volume to  some amount of soda-pop, will contain about 2 times the amount of alcohol over the amount in the soda-pop.
Soft drink advertisement, circa 1952
Nearly two billion people in the world are overweight or obese (This is one-third of the world's population).  This is a 25% increase since 2002

For the technologically-savvy, the word "modem" is known to be short for Modulation and Demodulation

If one digit were to be added to a telephone number in one area code in the United States, potentially 90,000,000 new phone numbers could be added

In the late nineteenth century, the symbol for currency in the United States was 'US' - the "S" was placed directly over the "U" and in time instead of "US" overlapping, it was shortened to the current symbol for the US dollar or means of currency:  $

The only part of the current United States invaded by the Japanese during WWII was Alaska, though when posed the question of what part of the US was invaded by the Japanese many Americans mistakenly identify Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese in a surprise attack that caught the US military base unaware, after which the US attacked Japan and entered WWII)

Dugan Smith, 13, is almost as good as new, having overcome an extremely rare malignant tumor on his thigh bone. A surgeon at Ohio State's James Cancer Hospital removed the middle of Smith's leg, turned the bottom of it around so that the back faces the front, and reconnected the parts

The Belly Button Biodiversity project at North Carolina State University has begun examining the "faunal differences" in the microbial ecosystems of our navels, to foster understanding of the "tens of thousands" of organisms crawling around inside (almost all benign or even helpful). An 85-year-old man in North Carolina
may have "very different navel life" than a 7-year-old girl in France, according to a May Raleigh News & Observer report. So far, only the organisms themselves and the host's demographics have been studied; other issues, such as variations by hairiness of navel, remain

Monday, November 21, 2011


If the name of every insect were printed in an average-size book, it would take about 6,000 pages to list them all.  Scientists believe over 37,000 species of spider exist, with another approximately 4,000 as yet unidentified

Ambergris (whale vomit), a common additive in skin creams and lotions, has also been added to cigarettes for flavor.  Ambergris is a fatty, waxy substance that forms in the intestines of the sperm whale
An example of hard, dried whale vomit, before being processed as an ingredient to cigarettes
 New Year's Day is the world's most observed holiday. In most English-speaking countries, it has been observed on January 1 since the British Calendar Act was passed in 1751

The metal part of a lamp that surrounds the bulb and supports the shade is called a harp
No penguins live at the North Pole. In fact, there are no penguins anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere (outside of zoos). All 17 varieties of the bird are found below the equator, primarily in the Antarctica 

The hair of an adult man or woman can stretch 25 percent of its length without breaking. If it is less elastic, it is not healthy

The telephone area code for a cruise ship in the Atlantic Ocean is 871  

"What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches"  - The Quarterly Review, 1825 

Close to Niagara Falls and Buffalo in Orchard Park, New York, is the Pedaling History Bicycle Museum, which features one of the world’s largest collections of antique American bicycles, including thousands of items of cycling-related memorabilia. The museum's machines are completely restored to their original condition. Recent acquisitions on display at the museum include several 1890s military bicycles and a very rare large two-wheeled bicycle manufactured in 1888 on which the rider sits between two large wheels, one on either side. The Pedaling History Bicycle Museum is the only one of its kind in America, and one of only a few remaining in the world. It is the biggest and most complete bicycle museum in the United States
 Two women about to go for an afternoon ride on their bicycles, circa 1900.  Women were discouraged from cycling initially since men saw this as "too vigorous" for women and dangerous to their health
Requirements of applicants to NASA's Mercury Space program in 1959, to become an astronaut:  Male; be in a branch of the military; be under 40 years old and shorter than 5 feet, 11 inches; demonstrate 20/20 eyesight and excellent physical condition; hold a bachelor's degree or equivalent in engineering; be a qualified jet pilot and have logged at least 1,500 hours of flying time  

Crushed cockroaches can be applied to a stinging wound to help relieve the pain

In one year, hens in just the U.S. lay enough eggs to encircle the globe a hundred times  

The 1998 blockbuster movie Titanic lasts 3 hours and 14 minutes. The actual ship took 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink after hitting an iceberg

The streets of London were lit by gaslights for the first time in 1807. Before that, torches were used

The tarantula spends most of its life within its burrow, which is an 18-inch vertical hole with an inch-wide opening. When male tarantulas are between the ages of 5 to 7 years, they leave the burrow in search of a female, usually in the early fall. This migration actually signals the end of their life cycle. The males mate with as many females as they can, and then they die around mid-November

Thomas Jefferson, one of the founders of the United States after the war for independence from England, was so upset with the Continental Congress' editing of his original Declaration of Independence that, for years afterward, he sent copies of both the original and the final version to friends and asked their opinions as to which version they preferred

New York University arts professor Wafaa Bilal had his camera surgically removed in February- the one that was implanted in the back of his skull in November to record, at 60-second intervals, the places he had left behind (beamed to and archived by a museum in Qatar). The camera had been mounted under his skin, braced by three titanium posts, but his body very painfully rejected one of the posts, and his temporary solution is to merely tie the camera to the back of his neck (even though that work-around is unsatisfactory to him because it represents a less-personal "commitment" to the art).  In the future, he said, communication devices like his will routinely be part of our bodies

Till Krautkraemer's New York City beverage company MeatWater creates dozens of flavors of water for the upscale market of hearty gourmets who would like their daily salads, or shellfish, or goulash, from a bottle instead of from a plate. Among his new flavors introduced in January, according to an AOL News report, were poached salmon salad water and a Caribbean shrimp salad water that can double as a vodka mixer. Old standbys include Peking duck water, tandoori chicken water, bangers 'n' mash water, and Krautkraemer's favorite, German sauerbraten water 

Sell What You Know: In December, a company in eastern Ukraine (a country known for hard-drinking) announced a "drinking buddy" service in which, for the equivalent of about $18, it would supply a barroom companion for the evening, "qualified" to discuss politics, sports, women, etc., and even to offer psychological counseling if appropriate  

The Panamanian company Scottish Spirits recently introduced a straight Scotch whiskey in 12-ounce cans, for a market of mobile drinkers who prefer not to invest in a whole bottle. The international Scotch whiskey trade association expressed alarm    

Monday, November 14, 2011


In 2000, not a single hurricane made landfall in the United States.  In a typical hurricane season in the U.S., which runs from June 1 through the end of November, an average of 3-10 such storms will make landfall, though some may lose much of their power while still over the ocean

The word 'hurricane' is derived from the Carib word 'Hurican,' which is the god of evil  (It should be noted that the Carib god 'Hurican' was derived from the Mayan god 'Hurakan', one of their creator gods, who blew his breath across the Chaotic water and brought forth dry land and later destroyed the men of wood with a great storm and flood

Green colored light is the least used color of light in the process of photosynthesis- it is reflected back into our eyes. That is why plants are, for the most part, green

The inventors of bubble wrap, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, were originally trying to make plastic wallpaper
Many people find "popping the bubbles" irresistible"

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife died when a dropped match ignited her enormous hoop skirt

Orang means “man” in Malay and hutan means forest, so orangutan means “man of the forest”

The Great Depression was bad for marriages and divorces. Couples could neither afford to become wed, nor to split up. Not surprisingly, both numbers spiked highly following World War II.  The Economic Crisis that began in 2008 has similarly brought the numbers of marriages and divorces to a 30-year low

The scientific name for the nape of your neck is “niddick”

When 7-Up was invented, it was originally called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda”
This advertisement, circa 1945, recommends 7-Up, today known as a soft drink, as a remedy for hangovers, a stomach-settling aide, a "slenderizing" drink, and alerts shoppers that it can be used at home and not just in the hospital!

Humphrey Bogart joined the US Navy after being kicked out of Phillips Academy Boarding School. He was wounded during the shelling of the Leviathan, resulting in partial facial paralysis and his lisp

Horses cannot breathe through their mouth. If their nostrils become obstructed, they could suffocate

When Cosmopolitan started in 1886, it was a marketed as a family magazine. Popular issues around the turn-of-the-century included stories by Henry James and Theodore Roosevelt, and covered topics like climbing Mount Vesuvius and the life of Mozart.  The magazine now caters most of its pages to fashion, make-up application and products, interviews with movie and television celebrities, and sex and life advice for women

In 1956, East Germany decided to honor the death of native composer Robert Schumann by featuring him on a stamp. The design included a commemorative portrait of the artist against the backdrop of one of his musical scores. Unfortunately, the musical manuscript they used was that of fellow composer Franz Schubert
When Union soldiers cut off supply deliveries to the Confederacy during the American Civil War, the South was not able to get paper from northern paper mills. So, Confederate papers were printed on the back of wallpaper peeled off of parlor walls

Just as some people talk in their sleep, sign language speakers have been known to sign in their sleep

Though it’s not as well-known as the Grand Canyon, Hell’s Canyon is the deepest river gorge in the U.S. at nearly 8,000 feet below the peaks of Idaho's Seven Devils Mountains range to the east. Most of the area is inaccessible by road

Lead guitarist for Queen, Brian May, dropped out of a physics PhD at Imperial College London to follow the path to rock stardom. He finally completed his thesis in 2007

Those few folks who have survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge report that it takes about four seconds to hit the water, some of whom found that enough time to re-think and regret the decision to attempt suicide

The Hawaiian alphabet only has twelve letters: A, E, I, O, U, H, K, L, M, N, P and W

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket

In a 1981 TV movie, the Harlem Globetrotters ended up on Gilligan’s Island and played basketball against a team of robots


Mattel revealed that its best-selling fashion doll in the last year (2010), for the age-6-and-up market, has been the teen werewolf "Monster High" model, Clawdeen Wolf, who comes with heavy makeup, a short skirt, and high boots, and who supposedly spends her time "waxing, plucking, and shaving." (Says Clawdeen, in promotional materials, "My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial, and that's just what grows on my legs.") Though Mattel claims the doll celebrates girls' imperfections, a counselor told Fox News she was appalled that the company tells young girls that they "need to sculpt, tweeze, wax, and . . . change their bodies" to attract men

Tokyo's Kajimoto Laboratory has created a tongue-kissing machine to enable lovers to suck face over the
Internet, according to a May CNN report. At separate locations, the pair place special straws in their mouths and mimic a deep kiss, which is recorded and transmitted to each other's straws.  Researcher Nobuhiro Takahashi sees profit in "celebrity" tongue-kissing applications, but said more work is needed to establish individual taste, breathing, and tongue moistness. (Another team of Japanese researchers, using a harness-type device, reported making similar advances- in Internet "hugging," with sensors that mimic lovers' heartbeats and even their spine's "tingling" and stomach's "butterflies")

The Columbus, Ohio, school board accepted principal Kimberly Jones's resignation in May following revelations by the Columbus Dispatch that she, though earning $90,000 a year, swore on federal forms that she made just $25,000 so that her own two children would qualify for reduced-price school lunches

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


Studies have shown the octupus can solve fairly complex problems and are considered to have approximately the same intelligence level as a dog

Before Beverly Hills was home to the rich and famous, the area was better known for its lima beans - it is now the wealthiest place to live in the entire United States according to the 2010 Census, for the second time in a row, with a median home sale price of $2.2 million and a population of about 36,000

Peridots are the only gems that have been found in meteorites, and is one of the few gemstones that appear in only one color- an olive green

The epitaph of Alexander the Great is one of the most famous in history: “A tomb now suffices him for whom the whole world was not sufficient.” But in all likelihood, Alexander’s tomb does not contain Alexander himself. The emperor Ptolemy took Alexander’s body and brought it back to Alexandria, where it was on display for a long time. But the body was lost and its current whereabouts are unknown

More than half the people living in Uganda are under 15 years of age, making it the country in the world with the youngest population

Before he wrote Jaws, Peter Benchley was a speechwriter for President Lyndon Johnson

Australia was actually given its name before it was even discovered by Europeans. Rumors of Terra Australis (”land to the south”) persisted for centuries until 1616, when the Dutch confirmed the continent’s existence

Up until the early 1970s in the United States, funeral homes often offered their hearses for use as ambulances to transport patients to hospitals

Limelight, a 1952 Charlie Chaplin film, won an Oscar for Best Dramatic Score 21 years later- Since the movie had never been shown in Los Angeles, it was still eligible to enter the competition as a “new” picture in 1973

That baritone voice behind the Jolly Green Giant’s “ho-ho-ho” belongs to the late Elmer “Len” Dresslar Jr., a Chicago-area jazz singer

The Ford Falcon was discontinued in the US in 1971 but was redesigned and produced through 1991 in Argentina and was known as the official vehicle of the military junta

The Flintstones was sponsored by a cigarette company during the show’s first two seasons. The show was intended for adults, not kids, so few complained about the commercials that depicted the stone-age characters puffing away on Winstons

In 1998, a Georgia teen was suspended for one day for wearing a Pepsi t-shirt at his school’s “Coke in Education Day” - High school senior Mike Cameron served a one-day suspension for sporting a Pepsi logo during an event school officials crafted in an attempt to win a $500 contest run by the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. School officials even went so far as to integrate Coke into class instruction for the day, in addition to bringing in Coke executives from Atlanta as speakers and gathering students outside during regular class time in their required brand-bearing apparel to spell "Coke" for a photograph.  By refusing to participate, the student was showing disrespect to the school's visiting corporate dignitaries who took time out of their busy schedules to fly in for the event, Greenbrier principal Gloria Hamilton said

The peacock is actually the male name of the peafowl- The female is called a peahen
A male (rear) courts a female with a bright and wide display of his feathers
‘Salmonella’ gets its name from Daniel Elmer Salmon, a veterinary pathologist who ran a USDA microorganism research program in the 1800s - the bacteria were discovered by his assistant and named in his honor

Countries in which people are most likely to help a stranger:  In a 2010 survey, Liberia and Sierra Leone were ranked #1 and #2 respectively

Printing the phrase “In God We Trust” on US currency was a mandate handed down by Abraham Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary Salmon Chase. During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt attempted to remove the slogan because he, as a devout Christian, felt that putting God on money was a sacrilege

Most often, ostriches don’t stick their heads underground to hide from predators - they bend their neck down low and flatten it against the ground

Only female mosquitoes bite you

After riding high through the 1920s, the roller coaster craze was nearly killed off by the Depression. In the United States between 1930 and 1972, only 120 of the thrill contraptions were built, while more than 1,500 were destroyed
The 1920s-era Aeroplane roller coaster in New York's Playland Park
Prison Guard ("the greatest entry-level job in California," according to an April 2011 Wall Street Journal report highlighting its benefits over a typical job resulting from a Harvard University education). Starting pay is comparable; loans are not necessary (since the guard "academy" actually pays the student); and vacation time is more generous (seven weeks, five paid). One downside: The prison system is more selective (Harvard accepts 6.2 percent of applicants versus the guard service's fewer-than-one- percent of 120,000 applicants)

In a widely reported story that originated in the Brazilian press, accountant (and severe-anxiety and hypersexuality sufferer) Ana Catarian Bezerra, 36, was said to have prevailed after a court battle in April to be allowed breaks during the work day to masturbate

From time to time, rabbis suggest ways of bypassingancient Talmudic laws that restrict observant Jews' behavior on the Sabbath (a day of "rest"). In April, Rabbi Dror Fixler, an electro-optics expert from Bar-Ilan University in Israel, said he could foresee a day when even driving a car might be permitted on the Sabbath.  The driver would wear an encephalography helmet that caught brain signals and transmitted them to a car's operating and steering system, removing the need for "action" on the driver's part (thus theoretically leaving them "at rest")

Monday, October 31, 2011


According to a 2011 survey, 1 in 8 people over age 40 admitted to pretending to be talking on a mobile phone in order to avoid a conversation with a person in their presence and/or who might approach them otherwise- among younger adults aged 18-34 that figure jumped to 1 in 3

The first telephone directory, consisting of a single page, was issued on February 21, 1878. It covered 50 subscribers in New Haven, Connecticut in the United States. The Reuben H. Donnelly company asserts that it published the first classified directory, or yellow pages, for Chicago, Illinois, in 1886.

The first British telephone directory was published on 15 January 1880 (the year after a public telephone service was introduced into the UK) by The Telephone Company. It contained 248 names and addresses of individuals and businesses in London; telephone numbers were not used at the time as subscribers were asked for by name at the exchange. The directory is preserved as part of the British phone book collection by BT Archives

The first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in WWII killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo

Tablecloths were originally meant to serve as towels with which guests could wipe their hands and faces after dinner

It is estimated that in excess of 3,000,000,000 Bibles have been sold throughout the world

In 1999, Pepsi, Inc. managed to have paid $0.00 in income tax - As of 2009, 19 of PepsiCo's product lines generated retail sales of more than $1 billion each, and the company’s products were distributed across more than 200 countries, resulting in annual net revenues of $43.3 billion. Based on net revenue, PepsiCo is the second largest food & beverage business in the world. Within North America, PepsiCo is ranked (by net revenue) as the largest food and beverage business
 PepsiCo’s product mix as of 2009 (based on worldwide net revenue) consists of 63 percent foods, and 37 percent beverages. On a worldwide basis, the company’s current products lines include several hundred brands that in 2009 were estimated to have generated approximately $108 billion in cumulative annual retail sales.  The primary identifier of companies' main brands within the food and beverage industry are those which generate annual sales exceeding $1 billion, and 19 of PepsiCo's brands met this description as of 2009: Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Lay's, Gatorade, Tropicana, 7Up, Doritos, Lipton Teas, Quaker Foods, Cheetos, Mirinda, Ruffles, Aquafina, Pepsi Max, Tostitos, Sierra Mist, Fritos, Aunt Jamima, Rold Gold Pretzels, and Walker's

In 1987 American Airlines saved $40,000 by eliminating one olive from its First Class salads

In 1976 an LA secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50 pound rock in a ceremony witnessed by more than 20 people

If a surgeon in Ancient Egypt lost a patient while performing an operation, his hands were cut off

Harry S Truman was the last U.S. President with no college degree  

Clocks made before 1660 had only one hand - an hour hand

Canada's new flag, with its maple leaf design, was unfurled in 1965 in Ottawa
Canadian flag prior to 1965
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had only one testicle

Dogs and cats, like humans, are either right or left-dominant showing a preference, for example, in which paw is used for moving a toy or preening themselves

The earth rotates more slowly on its axis in March than in September 

Despite the images we have in our minds scientists aren't sure what color dinosaurs were and it is our imaginations that have attributed largely greens and browns to these creatures - Scientists depict greens and browns as dominant colors based on lizards and reptiles alive today

The weight of a carat (200 milligrams), standard unit of measurement for gemstones, is based on the weight of the carob seed

The average temperature at 40,000 feet above sea level is -60 F

In 1897, Bayer, who is the maker of Aspirin, marketed the drug heroin

In the US alone, on average, more than ten people annually are killed by vending machines, usually by titling them and then not being able to support the weight of the machine

Hippo milk is pink

The human brain has the capacity to store everything that you experience, including sounds and sights that are "random and background" that you may have only consciously noted for a second when it happened

Just before the US invaded Baghdad in late March 2003, nearly $1 billion dollars was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq and is now the largest bank robbery in history 

It has been calculated that a single breath from a mature blue whale can inflate up to 2,000 balloons 

A loaded handgun fell from the pocket of a kindergarten student in Houston, Texas, in April 2011, firing a single bullet that slightly wounded two classmates and the "shooter"

Lakewood, Colorado police, attempting to wrest control of a sharpened stick that a second-grade boy was using to threaten classmates and a teacher, gave him two shots of pepper spray. (The boy had just finished shouting to police, "Get away from me you f--- ers")

In June 2011, officials of California's Alvord Unified School District announced that their brand-new, $105 million high school, Hillcrest, would remain unused for the coming school year (and perhaps beyond) because the budget-strapped state does not have $3 million to run the school for a year. (In any event, it costs $1
million per year just to maintain the building to prevent its deterioration)

A Mumbai, India, company, Aegis Communications, announced in May that it will hire about 10,000 new employees to work in its call centers fielding customer service problems for U.S.-based companies. However, those jobs are not in India. Aegis will outsource those jobs to Americans, at $12-$14 an hour, at nine call centers in the United States 

Tennessee State Rep. Julia Hurley apologized in July 2011 and said she would pay for the refinishing of her desk in the legislative chamber after it was revealed that she had carved her initials in it during a January session. "It was like one in the morning on the last day of the session," she told WSMV-TV. "I wasn't thinking straight."  Rep. Hurley, 29, who has a daughter, 14, unseated a nine-term incumbent legislator in 2010 with a campaign that touted her time as a Hooters waitress. "If I could make it at Hooters," she wrote in the restaurant's magazine, "I could make it anywhere"

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