Thursday, September 26, 2013
As I write this, today is a day to stay inside and get caught up on desk work. The weather has changed. Big, black clouds hover ominously overhead; thunder is rumbling in the distance and fat raindrops are falling on the parched ground. No gardening today. Instead, I am gathering information for my annual end-of-summer trivia column.
All year I save email trivia that readers send me. For someone who isn’t on Facebook I manage to accumulate a lot of interesting Trivial Pursuit type information. The following batch of collections I randomly clumped together under “I didn’t know that!” Check out these fun facts and see if you learn anything new:
In a five-card poker game there are 2,598,960 possible hands.
The National Safety Council reports that the object most often choked on is the toothpick.
Glass gets stronger the longer it is underwater. The only known substance to do so.
Leonardo Da Vinci could draw with one hand and write with the other simultaneously.
Adolf Hitler was Time Magazine’s 1938 Man of the Year.
The average human sheds 40 pounds of skin in a lifetime.
That sound you hear in the seashell is the echo of blood pulsing in your ear.
Ping Pong is the national sport of China.
A bride in China wears red.
In China, the day a baby is born it is considered 1 year old.
On average, the life span of an American dollar bill is 18 months.
The U.S. government will not allow portraits of living persons on postage stamps.
If you have at least 5/8 of a torn dollar bill, it can be redeemed for full value.
Ancient Egyptians shaved off their eyebrow to mourn the death of their cats.
Dolphins have bigger brains than humans.
A bee loses 22 muscles to sting you
An electric eel will short-circuit itself if it is put into salt water.
The great horned owl is the only animal that eats skunk.
A pigeon’s feathers weigh more than its bones.
A snail takes 115 DAYS to travel a mile.
Cats can’t taste sweet things.
Spiders have transparent blood.
Rats can’t vomit.
Female armadillos have exactly four babies at the same time and they are always the same sex.
An armadillo can be housebroken.
A rattlesnake can bite you up to an hour after it’s dead because of a reflex action.
Telephone poles in Uganda and Kenya are much higher to allow for the height of giraffes.
A female elephant can be pregnant nearly two years.
Eight out of ten people who read the word YAWN or see yawning, feel the urge to yawn.
Pretty fascinating stuff. Right? Now we’re going to move on to the handy hints department. I get these by the bucket load. Most are familiar and I delete but some are helpful. The first is really not a handy hint. It’s more like something one of my grandsons would do.
Here’s how to ride an elevator without stopping: Hold close door button till doors close. Keep holding. Select floor and do not let go of number and close door button till elevator moves. This will allow you to go straight to that floor without stops. My source said “This works on every elevator.” I haven’t tried it. Here are the hints:
A glass bowl makes a great amplifier for an iPhone.
Use bread bag clips to label cords: Keyboard, Dock, Mouse, Power
Cardboard tubes work great for organizing cords.
Use a wooden spoon to prevent water from over-boiling (shows spoon balanced across top of pot of boiling water.)
Use a can opener to safely open those pesky plastic packages.
Wrap Christmas lights around a clothes hanger and they won’t tangle.
Don’t waste your money on Swiffer towels. Regular kitchen rags work just fine.
Use sticky notes to catch debris while drilling.
Rubber band a sock over a vacuum to find small lost items.
Hanging pictures? Use a comb to hold the nail No more smashed fingers.
Several times this year folks sent me Historical Trivia dating back to colonial days. Most say, “Bet you didn’t know that!” And they were right. See if you know how these two sayings originated.
“At local taverns, pubs and bars, people drank from pint and quart containers. A bar maids job was to keep an eye on the customer and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in ‘pints’ and who was drinking in ‘quarts,’ hence the phrase ‘minding your P’s and Q’s.’
In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall for dining. The head of the household always sat in the chair while everyone else sat on the floor. Sitting in the chair meant you were important. Thus the saying, “Chairman of the board.”
Finally, a lesson in grammar that someone sent me titled: “How to Write Good.”
1. Avoid alliteration. Always.
2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
3. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)
4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
5. One should never generalize.
6. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
7. Be more or less specific.
8. Sentence fragments? Eliminate.
9. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
10. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant are unnecessary.
11. Who needs rhetorical questions?
Next week we’ll delve into some handy kitchen and diet hints that are lurking in my inbox. Until then—thanks! And keep sending me those emails!
Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.