Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Miscellaneous’

The Questions…

1. What is the only breed of dog that doesn’t bark?

2. Carrots weren’t always orange. The orange color appeared in the 1600s, when Dutch farmers began cultivating mutant strains, and the orange version turned out to be higher yielding and better tasting. What color were carrots originally?

3. In what month is Earth closest to the sun?

4. What is responsible for more allergic reactions than any other food or drink?

5. The ratel is a small mammal native to Africa, Asia, and India. By what name is the ratel better known?

The Answers…

1. The Basenji, a small hunting dog closely related to the non-domesticated Australian dingo. Basenjis and dingos vocalize with howls and yodels, but do not bark like most dog breeds.

2. Purple.

3. January. Paradoxically, we experience winter then because the earth’s axis is tilted, and the sun’s rays hit the planet at an angle at that time of year. In July, when we are farthest from the sun, its rays hit us more directly, and we have summer. Science.

4. Cow’s milk.

5. AKA the honey badger, a bad-tempered relative of weasels and martens. The label badger is a misnomer.

Read Full Post »

More random photos I’ve taken over the years that still make me smile.

Read Full Post »

This Just In

MILAN, ITALY — Customs officials in Milan intercepted a suspicious package from Colombia and found 130 grams of cocaine hidden inside hollowed-out coffee beans.

The officials investigated because the package was addressed to a crime boss in a John Wick movie. Members of the Guardia di Finanza, which deals with financial crimes and smuggling, observed that the package was addressed to Santino D’Antonio, a character from the movie John Wick: Chapter 2.

The package contained over 500 coffee beans that had been scooped out, filled with powdered cocaine, and resealed with brown tape.

The cocaine was confiscated, and the package was delivered to its final destination, a tobacco shop in Florence. A 50-year-old man who showed up to claim the package was arrested.

OLATHE, KANSAS — A dog that disappeared from her family’s home in Olathe was found a week later at the family’s previous residence 60 miles away in Lawson, Missouri.

Cleo, a four-year-old golden retriever, turned up at the Lawson home of Colton Michael. Cleo’s microchip revealed that she belonged to Drew Feeback, who had sold the house to Michael two years earlier.

Michael checked Facebook, found a post from Feeback about the missing dog, and Cleo was returned to her family.

Olathe, Kansas, and Lawson, Missouri, are located on opposite sides of the Kansas City metro area and on opposite banks of the Missouri River. No one knows how Cleo made the journey.

UEHLFELD, GERMANY — A Uehlfeld brewery has been forced to halt beer production because storks, a protected species in Germany, built a nest in one of the factory’s chimneys.

A family of storks built the nest at the Zwanzger Brewery in early spring, and the baby storks have since hatched. The brewery planned to relocate the nest so production could resume, but new coronavirus restrictions temporarily prevented it.

Brewer Christian Zwanzger said his stock of beer is running low, but he thinks production will be back to normal shortly. He said Uehlfeld is fond of the storks, which often return to the same spots every year. The town has about 35 nests.

Read Full Post »

Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● A New Year tradition in Colombia is to wear yellow underwear to ensure a year of happiness. Another is to walk around the block carrying a suitcase, in hopes you will travel a lot.

● The longest golf hole in the world is the third hole at Gunsan Country Club in Gunsan, South Korea. The hole is 1,100 yards long (about .6 miles) and par 7.

● The body of an average adult human has a water content of about 60 percent. Jellyfish are about 95 percent water.

● The desert scenes from five of the first six Star Wars movies were filmed in Tunisia. Most notably, scenes from Luke Skywalker’s home planet Tatooine were shot there. Several of the abandoned film sets have become tourist attractions.

● On September 2, 1666, a fire began in a small London bakery. Firefighters tried to create firebreaks to stop the spread, but high winds fanned the blaze into a firestorm that was unstoppable. By the next day, the Great Fire of London had burned 80 percent of the city.

● Light from the sun reaches the earth in an average of eight minutes, 20 seconds. The time varies according to the distance at the moment, of course.

● Only about 25 percent of babies are born on the due date predicted by the doctor.

● Koalas have fingerprints almost identical to humans, chimps, and gorillas, even though most other marsupials (kangaroos, wombats) have no fingerprints at all.

Read Full Post »

Fit for a King

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, built in the late 1800s by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, is a real-life fairytale/fairyland castle. No surprise, it was the inspiration for the royal castle in the Disney film Sleeping Beauty, as well as for the Sleeping Beauty castle at Disneyland.

Ludwig built several spiffy castles during his reign and, to his credit, paid for them with his personal fortune, not public funds. But he overreached with Neuschwanstein, and the costs soon had him in serious debt.

After borrowing heavily from relatives and every financial institution that would listen, Ludwig finally asked the Bavarian government to bail him out. His cabinet said no.

Serious rancor ensued. The situation escalated. Eventually, Ludwig was declared mentally ill and unfit to serve. He tried to flee the country, but was caught and detained at a remote estate near Munich.

A few days later, he and one of the doctors who declared him a mental case went for a walk along the shore of a mountain lake. The next morning, both men were found dead in waist-deep water. The doctor’s body showed unexplained signs of head and neck injuries.

The coroner declared Ludwig’s death a suicide by drowning. He said the doctor’s cause of death could not be determined due to lack of evidence. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Neuschwanstein Castle was completed a short time later and was opened to the public. It remains a popular tourist attraction today.

The Holiday Tree

Years ago, when my dad retired, Mom announced her retirement, too — from cooking. At the time, Mom was reassessing her life and making changes she felt were in order. Ergo, for Mom and Dad, a new era of pizza deliveries and eating out began.

Another of her changes concerned the Christmas tree. Mom said she was tired of the annual hassle of spending time decorating it, then, a few weeks later, reversing the process and hauling everything back to the attic. So she decided to leave the tree up permanently.

Thereafter, the Christmas tree became the Holiday Tree. Mom changed the decorations to reflect the seasons and holidays as appropriate.

After Christmas, it became the New Year Tree. Then the Winter Tree. Then the Easter Tree. Then the Springtime Tree. You get the idea.

The tree — artificial, of course — stood in one corner of a large rec room (formerly the carport, which the previous owner had enclosed), so having a six-foot tree in the house was never a problem.

In truth, Mom invested more time and energy in the Holiday Tree than she ever had in ordinary Christmas trees, but she and Dad thoroughly enjoyed it. They especially had fun collecting decorations.

I thought about doing the same thing myself, but decided against it. The hassle factor, you know.

Me at Mom and Dad’s house, Christmas 1998.

Unconventional

In the late 1920s, William M. Marston (1893-1947), a Harvard-educated psychologist, invented a device that measured blood pressure. His wife Elizabeth observed that when she got mad or excited, her blood pressure inevitably increased.

A light bulb came on over William’s head, and he contacted the inventor of the polygraph (lie detector). Result: The blood pressure device became an integral part of the polygraph.

The Marstons were, shall we say, an unconventional couple. Both were dedicated feminists, and, quietly, fans of BDSM. Eventually, the couple invited a like-minded friend, Olive Byrne, to live with them.

William had two children by each woman. Elizabeth pursued her career as an attorney and psychologist while Olive cared for the trio’s four children.

William had dabbled in writing since his college days and had published a series of self-help books. The itch to write later led him to a job at DC Comics as an educational consultant and occasional writer.

In 1941, his affinity for feminism, writing, and the bondage thing led him to create the character Wonder Woman, the first female superhero.

You may be aware that ropes (e.g., the Lasso of Truth) and being tied up are suspiciously regular Wonder Woman themes.

William wrote Wonder Woman stories until his death in 1947. Elizabeth and Olive continued living together until Olive died in 1990 at age 86. Elizabeth died in 1993, age 100.

Stranger than fiction.

Read Full Post »

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

###

America will never be destroyed from the outside.

Abraham Lincoln

###

Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.

Benjamin Franklin

###

This above all: to thine own self be true.

William Shakespeare

Cousteau

Shakespeare

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Pix o’ the Day

More random photos I’ve taken over the years that still make me smile.

Read Full Post »

The Questions…

1. Based on studies of collagen in bones, what two present-day bird species are most closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex?

2. More greeting cards are sold at Christmas than at any other holiday. What holiday is in second place?

3. The first six Star Wars films all were released in the same month. Which month?

4. The explorer Ponce de Leon gave Florida its name in 1513. The word comes from the Spanish florido, which means what?

5. The human population of Australia is 24 million. What is the kangaroo population?

The Answers…

1. Chickens and ostriches.

2. Valentine’s Day.

3. The six films of the original trilogy and the prequel trilogy were released in May. The films of the sequel trilogy, under Disney, were released in December.

4. Flowery.

5. About 44 million. The number has doubled in the last six years. The government wants people to eat more kangaroo meat, but most Aussies are turned off by that. They favor programs to sterilize and relocate the animals.

Read Full Post »

Thoughts du Jour

Unpalatable

To understand why the episode was so unsettling, you have to know that I prefer dry red wine. To me, the concept of sweet wine is simply wrong. In fact, I’m not a sweets person. I rarely eat or drink anything sweet.

Years ago, to lose weight, I switched from beer to wine. I began with Cabernet Sauvignon, then decided Merlot was more to my liking, then found Pinot Noir to be more subtle. Pinot Noir became my beverage of choice.

One evening a few weeks ago, I retrieved a bottle of Pinot Noir from the wine cellar (okay, the garage), popped the cork, poured a glass, and retired to my recliner to reflect upon the events of the day, with thoughts of bonding with Jake over some Combos or peanuts.

I raised the glass of Pinot Noir, took a sip — and recoiled in distress. It wasn’t Pinot Noir at all! It was sweet — alarmingly and cloyingly sweet!

I returned to the kitchen and checked the label on the bottle. Zinfandel. I had purchased a bottle of Zinfandel by mistake. Except for uttering an obscenity, I was speechless.

I took several more sips, but, ultimately, I emptied the rest into the sink. Still stinging, I returned to the wine cellar and retrieved a bottle of actual Pinot Noir.

Verify your purchases, people.

Zinfandel: full-bodied and fruity.

Pioneers

The first living things to go into space were fruit flies. In Feb. 1947, several of the little guys rode a V-2 rocket launched from White Sands Missile Range, the purpose being to study the effects of radiation at high altitudes. The fruit flies were recovered alive and well.

In June 1949, a rhesus monkey named Albert II was sent into space aboard a V-2, shortly after Albert I died when the rocket self-destructed on takeoff. Albert II reached space, but the V-2’s parachute failed, and Albert II died on re-entry.

In July 1951, the Soviet Union sent two dogs, Gypsy and Dezik, into space and returned them safely to earth.

In November 1957, the Soviets put a dog named Laika into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. Unfortunately for Laika, a mutt picked up from the streets of Moscow, it was a one-way trip; at the time, the technology didn’t exist to return a spacecraft from orbit. Laika died of hypothermia.

In October 1963, France sent a cat named Félicette on a suborbital flight aboard a Veronique rocket. Félicette was recovered safely after a 15-minute flight and a descent by parachute.

Thank you for your service.

Grooms and Valets

Friends, I am a relatively intelligent guy, and I consider myself attentive and curious. I am, in fact, an information junkie. I’m a major fan of the daily parade of facts and trivia you find online and in the media.

And I regularly pick up information that I’m genuinely surprised is new to me. How, I wonder, did I miss that?

I recently learned, for example, that for several centuries, every European monarch had a personal attendant in charge of overseeing the royal diet, attire, and toilet. Some of the courtiers in question also arranged for ladies to visit the king’s chambers.

Mainly, however, the attendant monitored the king’s meals, saw to his clothing and laundry, and, when the king went to the royal toilet, was available to make conversation and assist with hygiene as needed. In that regard, the degree of assistance provided is said to have varied from country to country and from king to king.

In France, the attendant was called the Valet de Chambre. In England, he was the Groom of the Stool. The positions were in existence from the early 1500s to about 1900.

Naturally, only noblemen and royal insiders were eligible for the job — which, despite certain unpleasant aspects, was highly coveted. Being in intimate contact with the monarchs, the attendants often gained the royal confidence, and many became highly influential at court.

How in the world did I miss that?

Sir William Compton (1482-1528), Groom of the Stool to Henry VIII.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »