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Interesting & Odd Animal Kingdom Facts
Looking like a carved chessmen and propelling himself forward in an upright position by means of a fan like dorsal fin is the six-inch-long seahorse.
     Not content with his singular appearance and swimming style, the male seahorse further compounds his strangeness by actually giving birth to his offspring, a procedure considered highly unorthodox for any father, in or out of the water.
     A few weeks before the seahorse gives birth, the sea mare has a rendezvous with Papa and carefully deposits her eggs in a kangaroo-like pouch in his abdomen. (The female is pouchless.)     Within this protective pouch the eggs are fertilized and incubated.
     When his tiny, squirming progeny are finally ready to be hatched, birth pangs seize the seahorse. With delivery near, he fastens himself securely by his strong, prehensile tail to some convenient underwater plant and waits for his quarter-inch babies – the image of Daddy, of course – to leap violently out of his distended brood pouch.
     From the time the little sea colts emerge, they can swim and move completely on their own. For a moment, the little ones swarm over the body of the father and then off they go, striking out bravely to meet the hazards of the dangerous, watery world into which they have been so strangely brought forth.

Some More Stuff
After mating, the male midwife toad collects the female’s eggs, wraps them around his hind legs, and carries them around with him for a month or more before depositing them in shallow water where they hatch into tadpoles.

Beelzebufoampinga, the "devil frog," could be the largest frog that ever existed. It measured 16 inches long and weighed about 10 pounds; its mouth was enormous, and it was a predator. Fortunately, it became extinct about 65 million years ago.

The smallest snake known to science is the Leptotyphlopscarlae, the Barbados thread snake, native to the Caribbean island of Barbados. A full-grown snake measures just 4 inches long.

The world's smallest seahorse is Satomi’s pygmy seahorse, which measures only about half an inch.

Odd Stuff in History
During World War II, a young man entered an enlistment center and eagerly asked to join the service. He said his name was Kincaid, he was twenty-one years old, and he wanted to become a flyer.
He was accepted into the Air Force and after training in the United States he was assigned to a bomber squadron at the Benghazi airbase in North Africa.
     As a gunner on a B-24 bomber, Kincaid soon ran up a terrific record, was decorated, and was made a sergeant.
     Then one day his buddy was killed, and so deeply did his friend’s death affect the young airman that he asked for a transfer.
     The transfer was granted. The flyer returned to the United States and immediately went to see his commanding officer. His name, he told the astonished officer, was not Kincaid, it was Fletcher, and he was not twenty-one years old, as his military records stated, but sixteen. He had been only fifteen when he had enlisted the year before, and he had lied about both his name and age.
     Tom Fletcher was the youngest combat flyer in World War II. At the age of sixteen he was already a veteran. He had completed thirty-five combat missions, had flown 300 combat flying hours, had won the Distinguished Flying Cross, and had been given the Air Medal with one silver cluster and five bronze clusters.

The Pennsylvania Dutch – a community of religious people who live in a simple way in Eastern Pennsylvania – are not Dutch but German. The sect has been misnamed, perhaps because the German word Deutch, meaning "German," was confused with "Dutch" by people unfamiliar with the German language.

Did you know that the Nobel Peace Prize was named after Alfred B. Nobel? The irony of that is Mr. Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, which caused the death of millions of soldiers in wars all over the world.

Weather Facts About Lightning
Most lightning travels 10 miles (16 km) or less. But depending on other atmospheric conditions, some lightning can travel 20 miles (32 km) or more.

Within a lightning bolt, the air is heated to temperatures above 50,000°F (22,760°C) – that's many times hotter than the surface of the sun!

The ancient Greeks and Romans erected temples at sites where lightning struck. The idea was to worship the gods at these sites in order to appease their anger.

Lightning detection equipment works by sensing a brief but intense burst of radio energy that comes right before the actual lightning. This energy, called a sferic, is what causes the static on your radio immediately before the flash.

Depending on the conductivity of the soil or surface, lightning can spread out in a radius over 60 feet (18 m) from where it first struck.

Just Stuff Q& A
Q: What is a MacGuffin?
A: A MacGuffin is a plot device that motivates the characters and advances the plot, but is not ultimately important to the audience. In short, a MacGuffin is the papers, or the money, or the diamonds that set the story in motion. The term was coined by Angus McPhail, but owes its significance to Alfred Hitchcock who used the concept in many of his major films.

Q: Who killed Laura Palmer in the TV series Twin Peaks?
A: Her father Leland Palmer.

Q: Who did the creator of Twin Peaks originally want to be the killer?
A: Nobody. When writer/director David Lynch conceived the show, he did not plan to reveal the identity of the killer because he wanted to use the murder to explore the real story of the series: the steamy underside of small town America. In other words, the homicide investigation was meant to be a MacGuffin.

Q: Who was Carolyn Keene?
A: The pen name shared by numerous authors of books in the Nancy Drew mystery series. Mildred Wirt Benson, the first "Nancy Drew," wrote nearly 2 dozen of these best-selling teen mysteries, but still remained relatively unknown.

Let's talk planets. Facts about Mars
Average distance from the sun.
141,500,000 miles (227,900,000 km)

Equatorial Diameter
4219 miles (6794 km)

Hottest day: 70°F (20°C)
Coldest night: -220°F (-40°C)
Average: -60°F (-50°C)

Length of a Day
24 hours, 39 min.

Length of a Year
687 Earth-days

Atmospheric Composition
95% carbon dioxide
3% nitrogen
2% other gases

Number of Moons

Largest Moon

Weird Stuff About Stars
Red Supergiants
A red supergiant is a really big red star in the final phases of its life. These are the largest stars in the universe.

Just how large are they? If one were in our solar system, it would swallow not only the sun, but Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars as well.

Red supergiants begin their lives as blue giant stars. When the blues giant runs out of fuel in its core, the core collapses and heats up dramatically.

In an effort to cool off, the surface of the star swells up like a balloon. (This process is just like what happens to a sun like-star, only the result is much larger.)

An old blue giant star will quickly swell past the red giant stage. It will continue to swell until it is almost as large as the orbit of Jupiter. This old star will swell and shrink several times before it is ripped apart in a tremendous supernova.


A supernova is the most powerful explosion in the universe. This incredible display of nature's fireworks marks the end of a star's life.

Astronomers believe there are two different ways a star can blow itself up. A Type Ia supernova involves a white dwarf star. A Type II supernova – the more common type – involves an old blue giant star.

A Type Ia supernova is rare because it requires not only a white dwarf, but an orbiting red giant star as well. In this deadly combination, when the red giant swells in size, its surface will get too close to the white dwarf. The strong gravity of the white dwarf quickly rips away large amounts of the red giant’s atmosphere. The stolen hydrogen rapidly piles up on the white dwarf's surface, increasing the stars temperature and pressure too fast for the white dwarf to handle.

This is dead star cannot expand the way other stars do when it gets hot. So the pressure and temperature goes up higher and higher until the start can't handle them anymore. It blows itself apart. Supernova!

Early Medicine
Leprosy was such a serious disease in the Middle Ages that those infected – while in relatively good health – were encouraged to plan and attend their own funerals before the disease disfigured and eventually killed them.

Medieval doctors thought leprosy extremely contagious, so lepers were not allowed to touch anything except by using a cane. Today we know that, although leprosy can be transmitted from person-to-person, it is very difficult to catch from touch alone.

Wealthy medieval lepers could live in luxurious leper colonies with their entire families. Many rich medieval men left their fortunes to such colonies, many of which were run by the church.

Medieval doctors believed that serious disease was spread by bad odors and that good odors could protect against infection. During plague times, people wore long beaks filled with fragrant spices to protect them from unwholesome air.

In medieval times, doctors believed that the body was divided into four "humors" – an idea that was borrowed from Hippocrates. Each of the humors had a body fluid associated with it. For example, fire with yellow bile; earth with black bile; water with phlegm; an air blood. The humors had to be balanced for health. If a person was moody or became ill, the humors had to be balanced by letting out blood or giving a laxative.

During medieval times, who provided your medical care depended on your social position. University trained doctors, all men, treat it only wealthy patients. Folk healers, usually women, took care of everyone else.

There was a great deal of hostility among the different "classes" of doctors during the Middle Ages. University trained physicians hated those who practiced more herbal and "magical" remedies. Some historians have even suggested that the persecution of witches started as an attempt by trained doctors to get rid of the untrained ones.

I Do (Traditions around the world)
Everybody wishes the bride and groom a happy honeymoon today. But the idea of the honeymoon actually goes back to a time when it was customary for the newlyweds to run away after the wedding. The bride's kinsman would go looking for the young woman to capture her and take her back. The husband hid with his bride until the relatives got tired of searching for her – and that's how the honeymoon got its start.

If you think mothers-in-law are unpopular today, imagine how the mother-in-law felt who lived among Lhopa tribe in Tibet years ago….It used to be the custom there to eat the bride's mother at the wedding feast!

There are many countries where parents arrange the marriages of their children. And this is usually done when they reach a certain age and are ready for it.

But there is also the custom of infant betrothal, in which marriages are arranged – and sometimes actually performed – when the girl and boy are mere infants.

In New Caledonia, for example, a girl is betrothed as soon as she is born. In the Fiji Islands, children are married by their parents when they are three or four years old. It's only a ceremony, but it's a binding ceremony. When the children grow up, they are man and wife.

And among certain Eskimo tribes, a young man, or his father, can ask for a girl as soon as the girl is born. If the father of the child accepts the offer of marriage, a promise is given. It is as binding as a marriage ceremony. At the proper age, the girl is delivered and the wedding takes place. It sometimes may be the first time she has seen her husband.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: In the Star Trek Universe, what is the difference between a Vulcan and a Romulan?
A: A Vulcan is a humanoid from the planet of the same name. Vulcan society is based on total logic, reason and repression of emotion as developed by the philosopher Surak. Vulcan's who rejected Surak’s teachings of non-violence immigrated to the planets Romulus and Remus where they are known for their passion and cunning. Both groups have pointy ears.

Q: Can you name the five children who win a guided tour to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory in Roald Dahl’s classic children's book?
A: Augustus Gloop, Violet Baeuregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee and, of course Charlie Bucket.

Q: How do each of the children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meet their untimely exit from the factory tour?
A: After Augustus Gloop drinks from the chocolate river, he falls in and is sucked into one of the pipes leading to the Fudge Room. Violet Baeuregarde chews a three-course-dinner stick of gum, which transforms her into a giant blueberry girl. Then she is rolled off to the juicing room to be squeezed back to size. Veruca Salt suffers an even worse state: He is thrown down a garbage chute by squirrels trained to dispose of "bad nuts." Mike Teavee is miniaturized by a television camera designed to teleport chocolate samples and then sent to a gum stretching room to be restored to his normal height. Only Charlie makes it through the whole tour.

Q: Who appeared in more than thirty Alfred Hitchcock films?
A: Alfred Hitchcock. The director began his amusing cameos in The Lodger (1926), after an actor failed to appear on the set. He continued these unaccredited appearances until the end of his career. They became so famous that the portly Hitchcock was obliged to schedule his appearances near the beginning of the film, so as to not distract his audiences form this story.

Q: Who was the title character of the 1963-1966 television series My Favorite Martian?
A: Ray Walston played the Martian who, disguised as Uncle Martin, lives with Timothy O’Hara (Bill Bixby). 

Weird Stuff About Stars
White Dwarfs
White dwarfs are fascinating, even if they are dead stars.

These bright, Earth-size stars emit tremendous amounts of heat and light and are so dense that a teaspoon of material from a white dwarf's surface would weigh a couple of tons!

These weird features are the result of an old sun-like star completely running out of fuel.

In the last stages of his life, a sun-like star (now a red giant) will puff off its outer layers and begin to collapse. Gravity will cause all the matter that is left within the star to collapse into a smaller and smaller ball.

Eventually, the collapse will stop when the strong gravity can't cram the remaining matter together any tighter. With all the matter from an old sun -like star now packed tightly within an Earth-size ball, a white dwarf is incredibly dense.

In addition to being very dense, a white dwarf is also very hot. The heat generated during its final collapse will take anywhere from thousands to millions of years to dissipate. As a result, a white dwarf will continue to shine for many years without nuclear reactions occurring in its core.

When it white dwarf finally cools off, all that will remain of the dead star will be a dark, dense hulk.

A nova (plural = novae) is a brief, powerful explosion that takes place on the surface of a white dwarf star.

As has already been noted, a white dwarf is a dead star. For a dead star to explode, some special conditions are required.

First of all, a white dwarf must be orbiting another star.

Second, the stars must be close enough together that the white dwarf’s gravity can steal hydrogen from the other star.

As hydrogen streams from the larger star to the white dwarf, it slowly collects on the white dwarf’s surface, which is already pretty hot. That temperature rises even higher as more and more hydrogen is added to the surface and compressed by the white dwarf's strong gravity.

After a time, the pressure and temperature of the stolen hydrogen will get high enough to trigger nuclear reactions. In a brilliant first, all the stolen hydrogen will fuse in an intense, brief burst of nuclear reactions. This is a nova.

When all the hydrogen is consumed, the nova will fade and the process will start all over again. As long as a white dwarf can steal hydrogen from a companion star, it will continue to produce a novae on its surface.

Weather Facts About Tornadoes
An F-0 tornado would have just enough force to blow lawn furniture around. An F-5 tornado can lift trains off the tracks. Meteorologists refer to F-5 tornadoes as "the finger of God."

Tornadoes have four distinct stages of formation: organizing, maturing, shrinking, and decaying.

Most of the destruction within the funnel of a tornado occurs as a result of 200 mile (320 km) per hour winds and flying debris.

Even though they may form at all hours of the day or night, tornadoes occur most frequently from 3 PM to 6 PM.

A wall cloud refers to the dark, dense cloud that eventually drops a tornado funnel. When the rotation effect of the system is very strong, the wall cloud stretches out around the funnel like a cuff. Meteorologists call this a collar cloud.

The unpredictability of the path tornadoes will take gives them the nickname "sidewinders," referring to the movement of some species of snake.

Tornadoes can disappear as soon as they form. This is because the air is very unstable during the various stages of tornado formation, and conditions can shift enough to dissipate a tornado's energy.

Weak F-1 tornadoes can form when a hurricane hits land.

Unlike a tornado, a dust devil forms from the ground up and does not involve a weather system.

Let's Talk Planets Facts About Venus
Venus is constantly covered by a thick layer of clouds. While these clouds may look like Earth clouds, they have very little in common with them.

Instead of Earth-like water vapor clouds, clouds on Venus are composed of sulfuric acid and other noxious chemicals. Also unlike Earth clouds, these clouds never produce any rain. Because the surface of Venus is so hot, the chemical mixture that would be rain evaporates before it hits the ground.

So acid doesn't rain down on the planet. But any spacecraft trying to land on Venus must first pass through these harsh, metal eating chemical clouds.

Mornings and evenings on Venus would be very confusing to humans.
Venus has a retrograde rotation – meaning that it spins around on its axis in the opposite direction when compared with most other planets. (Uranus also has an unusual spin.)

Because of its opposite spin, sunrise and sunset on the planet are opposite as well. So on Venus, the sun rises in the West and sets in the East – although it would be hard to see because of the constant cloud cover!

You would feel more than a little crushed if you were to stand on the surface of Venus. That crushing feeling comes from an atmospheric pressure ninety times greater than Earth's.

On Earth we are used to an atmospheric pressure of about 14.7 pounds per square inch (101,353 Newtons per square meter). That means there is 14.7 pounds of air pushing on every square inch of your body. You don't notice the pressure because you are used to it. If you were to go to Venus, however, you would definitely notice a change.

Instead of 14.7 pounds, there will be 1,323 pounds per square inch (9,121,764 Newtons per square meter) pressing in on you from every direction. 

Just Stuff
When you shake hands with someone, you are performing a symbolic act that goes back thousands of years.
Of course, the ancient symbolic meaning has long been forgotten and we all shake hands today without giving the act much thought. But here's what it meant to a primitive man:
When a man met someone with whom he didn't want to fight, and with whom he might want to establish a good relationship, he dropped his weapon to the ground. Then he held out his right hand – the weapon hand – as a symbol of friendliness. And shaking hands is still a symbol of friendliness today.

NO TIPPING is a sign we are sometimes glad to see in restaurants or hotels. On the island of Tahiti, tipping is considered patronizing in its most obnoxious sense – and accepting a tip a form of begging – which is why natives refuse to receive tips for their services.

Computer History (Sort of)
Before computers were in use, navigators, astronomers, accountants, and mathematicians all relied on books of tables – most of which were filled with mistakes.

The first version of Microsoft Word was released on November 20, 1985. It sold for ninety-nine dollars.

The "8-Second Rule" means the someone will wait no more than 8 seconds for a webpage to load before moving on to another webpage. This rule of thumb is used by webmasters to keep their pages uncomplicated.

The expression "whack a mole" means closing and annoying pop-up window while Internet surfing.

An angry e-mail, newsgroup, or chat room message that attacks another writer is called a "flame."

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Who was last American president to sport facial hair?
A: William Taft, who left office in 1913, was the last president "as of this writing" to have had a mustache. Benjamin Harrison, whose term ran from 1889 to 1893, was the last executive chief to have a proper beard.

Q: Who was the world's tallest human? How tall was he?
A: At 8 feet 11inches, Alton, Illinois native Robert Wadlow towered above all others. This short-lived (1918 – 1940) gentle giant owed his height to an overactive pituitary gland that caused his abnormal growth and several health problems. Wadlow tried to live a normal life, but his rapid height spurt made it impossible: At the age of thirteen, he was already 7 feet 4 inches tall, gaining him the dubious distinction of being the world's biggest boy scout. In his last years, he toured as a goodwill ambassador for international shoes, who provided him with his size 37 foot wear.

Q: For what creature did authorities in the southern Malaysian state of Johor mount a major hunt?
A: In November 2005 three fishery workers claimed to have sighted a Bigfoot family that left footprints.

Q: Why do men wear neckties?
A: Roman soldiers wore a strip of cloth around their necks to keep them warm in winter and to absorb sweat in the summer. Other armies followed suit, and during the French Revolution the Royalists and the Rebels used ties to display the colors of their allegiance. They borrowed the design, and the name cravat, from the Croatian Army. Later, ties became a French fashion statement, offering a splash of color to an otherwise drab wardrobe.

Q: Why are men's buttons on the right and women's on the left?
A: Decorative buttons first appeared around 2000 BC, but they weren't commonly used as fasteners until the sixteenth century. Because most men are right-handed and generally dressed themselves they found it easier to fasten their buttons from right to left. However, wealthy women were dressed by servants, who found it easier to fasten their mistresses clothes if the buttons were on her left. It became convention and has never changed.

Q: Why do baby boys wear blue and girls wear pink?
A: The custom of dressing baby boys in blue clothes began around 1400. Blue was the color of the sky and therefore heaven, so it was believed that the color warded off evil spirits. Male children were considered a greater blessing than females, so it was assumed that demons had no interest in girls. It was another hundred years before girls were given red as a color, which was later softened to pink.

Let's Talk Planets: Facts about Earth
Average distance from the Sun
92,920,000 miles (149,600,000 km)

Equatorial Diameter
7921 miles (12,756 km)

Average Temperature
70°F (20°C)

Length of the Day
23 hours, 56 min.

Length of the Year
365.25 Earth-days

What You Breathe (Atmospheric Composition)
77% nitrogen… 21% oxygen …2% other gases

Number of Moons
One and it is called Luna

The Faster We Go
The British Automobile Association, or AA was founded in 1905 as an organization dedicated to helping its members avoid police speed traps. Today it advocates for road safety and provides members with services such as driving directions, roadside assistance, and vehicle insurance.

In the United States, someone runs a red light at an intersection once every twenty minutes.

Weird Stuff About Stars
Brown Dwarfs
Brown dwarfs are objects that just don't seem to fit in anywhere.

These large balls of gas are too small to be stars but too big to be planets.
      Even though brown dwarfs are probably formed in the same type of diffuse nebula as all the other stars, these guys never managed to get enough mass together to trigger nuclear reactions in their core.
     So you should think of brown dwarfs as dud stars – stars that were too small to burn.
     And because they range in size from 13 to 80 times the mass of Jupiter, they are really too large be considered planets.
     So they just float around space as giant gas balls.

Red Giants
A red giant is a former sun-like star that is passing through one of its last phases of life.
     Its name comes from the star’s cool temperature (which causes it to glow red) and its enormous size.
     A sun-like star reaches this phase when it has used up all the hydrogen in its core. The core then collapses and heats up more than ever.
     To get rid of the excess heat, the star’s surface begins to swell up like a balloon. As it gets larger, there is more surface for the heat to escape from in the star begins to cool.
     When our sun becomes a red giant, its surface will swell until it swallows both Mercury and Venus. So not only does a red giant mark the beginning of the end of a sun-like star, it also marks the death of any planet that happens to lie close to the star.
     A red giant star will go on to form a planetary nebula and a white dwarf.

Botanical Oddities
The wildflower yarrow contains a chemical that speeds blood clotting. According to Greek mythology, the hero Achilles was said to have discovered this property.

Before the Mormon pioneers learn to cultivate the land around the Great Salt Lake, they survived by eating the tender bulb of the Mariposa Lily, just as the Native American Utes and Paiutes had been doing for centuries.

The herb parsley is particularly effective in neutralizing bad breath

The Chinese called it jen-shen, and the American Indians called it grantoqen. The name of the plant? Ginseng.

Willow bark provides the chemical from which aspirin was originally synthesized. The bark has been use of the pain remedy ever since the Greeks discovered its medicinal power nearly 2,500 years ago.

Let's Talk Planets: Facts about Venus- How Hot is Hot?
To a weather forecaster Venus would be pretty boring: Today, the high and low will be 900°F (480°C). Tonight and tomorrow, next month or next year – more of the same.

The cause of this extreme and unvarying temperature is the planet’s dense carbon dioxide atmosphere. It lets sunlight in, but won't let any heat out.

Sunlight is allowed to pass through the clouds and warm the planet. No problem. However, when the baked in heat rises from the ground and tries to escape back into space, it can't. That's a problem!

The carbon dioxide atmosphere acts like a wall, blocking the infrared radiation (what we call heat) and keeping almost all of it trapped on the planet. The next day, when the sun shines on the planet, more light is allowed through the clouds. It heats the surface again, creating even more infrared radiation that can’t escape.

This process continues every day and is called the runaway greenhouse effect. You may have experienced a similar type of greenhouse effect if you ever opened the door of a car that has been sitting in the sun a long time with its windows rolled up.

Windows allow sunlight to pass through and heat a car’s interior. However, the glass will not allow most of the resulting infrared radiation to pass back through it and escape the car. The heat stays trapped inside, causing the interior to get hotter and hotter.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: In the 1956 American version of Godzilla, who plays the western journalist who plays opposite the embattled, yet resilient monster?
A: In the American version of Godzilla, Raymond Burr portrays reporter Steve Martin. Burr once claimed that he had played opposite actors more ferocious than Godzilla.

Q: What is the name of Bruce Wayne's original ward?
A: Dick Grayson was Bruce Wayne's first dependent. This duo is also known as Batman and Robin. Robin first appeared in Batman comics in 1940

Q: What is Lois Lane's job?
A: Lois Lane is a reporter for the daily planet, Metropolis’s most successful newspaper. Apparently no Bob Woodward, aspiring sleuth Lane never seems to connect the quick disappearances of fellow reporter Clark Kent with the sudden arrivals of Superman.

Q: What does "G.I." stand for?
A: "G.I." stands for Government Issue.

Q: Some bottles of brandy carry the word "VSOP." What does this acronym mean?
A: Very Superior Old Pale.

Feeling Creepy Crawlers?
Karl-Axel Ekbom, a Swedish neurologist, published a detailed documentation of "delusional parasitosis" in 1938. His work was so significant that the disorder came to be known as Ekbom’s Syndrome.

Ekbom also coined the term "restless legs syndrome" to describe the sensation of itching or creeping under the skin that compels a person to move their legs. RLS is sometimes referred to as Wittmaack-Ekbom Syndrome, named in part for German physician Theodor Wittmaack, who studied the disease in the 1850s.

People with the psychological disorder Ekbom’s Syndrome believe they are infested with parasites crawling on and under the skin. The sensation is so real that they can both feel and see the imaginary bugs.

Ekbom’s Syndrome, or delusional parasitosis, is also known as formication. (Read that word carefully!)

Formica is the Latin word for "ant.”

Interesting and Odd Food Facts
When you buy a can of sardines, you're not getting one particular kind of fish. There is no such creature as a sardine.

Sardine is the name given to several different species of herring when they are caught while young and small and packed in flat cans for human consumption. One example is the European pilchard, a kind of herring who's partially grown offspring were the original sardines. There are also the New England sardine, another variety of young herring, and the California sardine, a young pilchard found in the Pacific Ocean. In England, the young of the Cornish pilchard are used. The Norwegian sardine is a fish called a sprat, or brisling.

So, as you can see the sardine is any herring the canner chooses to call a sardine.

Everybody loves a fair, and the Great World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 was a terrific hit. People flocked to see it from all over the world, as it had, among other new attractions, the first Ferris wheel. But it was a good concessionaire by the name of Anton Feuchtwanger who was to make a lasting impression of American life.
     Feuchtwanger had come to America from Bavaria with many old recipes, and now, at the fair, he was selling a specialty of his homeland.
     However, because this specialty had to be served piping hot, it was difficult to handle, so fairgoers passed it up for more conventional nourishment.
     Feuchtwanger tried everything to get people to eat his food. He even provided white cotton gloves to protect the hands of his customers, but most of them just walked off with the gloves.
     Finally, Feuchtwanger hit on a solution. He would prevent burned fingers by simply putting his specialty between the haves of a long roll.
      From then on, Feuchtwanger was a success. The food he served was the spicy sausage known throughout the world today as the American hotdog.

The peanut is not a nut. Most nuts grow on trees. The peanut plant is a legume, a member of the pea family; the peanuts it produces grow underground.

Some Animal Facts
One female wild golden hamster, found with a litter of twelve in Syria in 1930, is the ancestor of all pet hamsters found today.

The average high quality mink coat requires 35-65 pelts. Beaver coats require 15 pelts; Fox, 25; ermine, 150; and up to 120 pelts for the fanciest coat of all – the chinchilla.

Beaver teeth are so sharp and hard that Native Americans used them as knife blades and arrowheads.

Rats are considered one of the most truly omnivorous creatures. They'll eat anything – including dead and dying members of their own species.

Native to Asia, rats spread throughout the world because they often found their way onto ships.

A rat can survive longer without water than a camel.

Let's Talk Planets: Facts about Venus
Venus is the sixth largest planet in the solar system, or the third smallest.

A day on Venus is actually longer than its year.

On Venus, the sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

Venus is the hottest planet in the solar system.

The normal atmospheric pressure on Venus is ninety times greater than Earth's. Let's put it this way…the pressure on Venus would squish you flat.

Astronomers use radar to "see" what lies beneath the thick clouds of Venus.

Eight spacecraft have landed on Venus. Together, they have sent back a total of 9.5 hours’ worth of data.

Although Venus has more than 1600 volcanoes and volcanic features, there has been no direct evidence of any recent eruptions.

Aphrodite Terra and Ishtar Terra are too highland regions on Venus, similar to Earth's continents.

On Venus, a 100 pound (45.3 kg) person would weigh 90.5 pounds (41 kg).

To find out how much you weigh on Venus, multiply your birth weight by 0.905.

99 and 44/100 Percent Pure
William Proctor, a candle maker, and James Gamble, a soap maker, went into business together because their father-in-law, Alexander Norris suggested it. In 1837 they created the company known as Proctor and Gamble.

Proctor and Gamble's first major product was Ivory Soap, invented in 1879 by Gamble’s son, James N. Gamble. It was named by Proctor’s son, Harley T. Proctor, inspired by a passage from the Bible: Psalms 45:8, which refers to "ivory places."

Ivory Soap floats because there's air whipped into the mixture. This makes the soap lighter than water (and easy to find in the tub!).

Just Stuff Q & A
Q:Why do we say "hello" when we answer the telephone?
A:The first word used to answer the phone was the nautical greeting "ahoy," because the first regular phone system was in the maritime state of Connecticut. Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor, answered with the Gaelic "hoy," but it was Thomas Edison's greeting of "hello," an exclamation of surprise dating back to the Middle Ages, that caught on, and so we answer today with "Hello?"

Q:Why do we say "good-bye" or so "long" when leaving someone?
A:The word good-bye is a derivative of the early English greeting of "God be with you," or it as it was said then, "God be with ye." Over the years its abbreviated written form and pronunciation became "goodbye." As for "so long," it came to Britain with soldiers who had spent time in Arabic speaking countries, where the perfect expression of goodwill is "salaam." The unfamiliar word to the Englishman sounded like, and then became, "so long."

Q:When did men start shaving every morning?
A:In many cultures shaving is forbidden. The reason we in the West lather up every morning can be traced directly back to Alexander the Great. Before he seized power, all European men grew beards. But because young Alexander wasn't able to muster much facial hair, he scraped off his peach fuzz everyday with a dagger. Not wanting to offend the great warrior, those close to him did likewise, and soon shaving became the custom.

Q: What do the following abbreviations signify in internet-speak?
a) lol
b) imho
c) ttyl
d) afaik
e) bbl
A: a) "laughing out loud." b) "in my humble opinion." c) "talk to you later." d) "as far as I know." e) "be back later.)

Q: On August 10, 2003, Yuri Melanson wed Ekaterina Dmitriyeva. Why will their nuptials live in history?
A: When this couple exchanged vows, the cosmonaut groom was in space aboard the International Space Station, 240 miles above his betrothed, who was in Texas. The bride, a U.S. citizen, looked heavenly in a traditional wedding dress; her husband wore a bright blue spacesuit adorned with a bowtie. To complete their celestial effect, the bride stood next to a life-sized cardboard cutout of her groom and the best man astronaut Edward Lu played the wedding march on a portable keyboard in space.

Q: What are the troubles with Tribbles?
A: In the original Star Trek series, Tribbles are small round furry non-intelligent lifeforms. Born pregnant, these endearing little creatures reproduce asexually and exponentially if provided with an adequate food supply. After a lone Tribble is brought aboard the USS Enterprise, the species quickly mushroomed into millions, creating havoc and one of the funniest Star Trek episodes ever.

Some More Stuff
Where did the coffee habit come from?
Muslims were the first to develop coffee. As early as 1524 they were using it as a replacement for the wine they were forbidden to drink. According to legend, an astute Arab herder noticed that his goats became skittish after chewing on the berries of a certain bush, so he sampled a few himself and found them to be invigorating. The region of Abyssinia where this took place is named Kaffa, which gave us the name for the drink we call coffee.

Why do we define the rat race as "keeping up with the Joneses"?
"Keeping up with the Joneses" has come to mean trying to keep up with our neighbors, in terms of material possessions, at any cost. The expression comes from the title of a comic strip that ran in newspapers between 1913 and 1931 and chronicled the experiences of a newly married man in Cedarhearst, New York. Originally titled "Keeping Up with the Smiths," the cartoon was changed to "Keeping Up with the Joneses" because it sounded better.

More Stuff
The building and servicing material Formica was originally developed as insulation material for electrical devices. At the time, insulation was made mainly from the mineral mica. The new material was a substitute "for mica" – and that's how it got its name.

Daniel J. O'Connor and Herbert A. Faber were the Westinghouse engineers who developed Formica. When they filed their patent in 1913, the company paid them one dollar for the rights to their invention. They quit and set up their own business soon after.

Hmm – Just Stuff
When a politician campaigns for office, he tries to make people think he is "one of them." In the continental United States, it might mean eating certain foods or wearing certain hats. But in Hawaii, no politician dares run for office without knowing how to do the hula! It's part of the campaign.

The Swiss guards, the personal bodyguards of the Pope, are really Swiss. They are recruited in the Catholic cantons of Switzerland. The reason they wear those particular uniforms is that the treaty that established the guard was signed in the sixteenth century – and that's the uniform they wore in those days.

About a hundred years ago in India, Sikhs used a Frisbee-like a weapon. They twirled a razor-sharp metal quoit on one finger and hurled it at the enemy.

Many years ago, a village priest in the little town of Zipaquira, Columbia, dreamed of someday having a beautiful church for his little flock, all of whom were poor workers in the local salt mine. The mine there is the largest active salt mine in the world, and it supports the entire town.

The priests dream came true. But the church grew into a cathedral – and it is made entirely of salt!

The cathedral, called Our Lady of the Rosary, is constructed entirely within a towering mountain of salt, 800 feet beneath the summit. Everything within the cathedral is carved and shaped from the hard, glistening white salt: the towering pillars, the great vaulted dome, the Stations of the Cross, the side chapels, the statuary, the magnificent central altar. And all the work of construction, of carving and shaping, was done by the devout minors.

The cathedral took six years to build, and can seat 5,000 worshipers. The great nave is 400 feet long, 73 feet high, and is supported by columns of solid salt 33 feet square. The workmen who built it used pneumatic drills in constructing it.

Our Lady of the Rosary is reached by way of deep tunnels, each a mile-long, and wide enough for the passage of a single car; one tunnel leads in, the other winds out. Just outside the gates to this strange house of worship is a vast underground parking lot that has enough space to accommodate more than 200 cars.

Early Medicine Egyptian Style
A collection of thirty-seven surgical instruments is engraved on a wall in the Egyptian Temple of Kom-Ombo (2nd century B.C.). Some show amazing similarities to modern surgical instruments and include scalpels, scissors, needles, forceps, lancets, books, and pinchers.

The Egyptians used opium as a crude form of anesthesia when operating on patients. They also created a milder painkiller by mixing water with vinegar and adding ground Memphite stone. The resulting "laughing gas" was inhaled.

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered thirty-nine mummies with cancer. Most of these were cancers of the breast and uterus.

Trepanning, or making holes in the skull to relieve brain pressure, was practiced in ancient Egypt. Skulls at the medicine museum in Cairo show circular holes in the frontal bones. New bone growth at the edges suggest that the patients lived through the operations, at least for a few months.

Egyptian doctors treated joint pain by applying ointments containing fat, oil bone marrow, gum, and honey. They sometimes added flour, natron, onion, cumin, flax, frankincense, or pine.

In ancient Egypt, cough was treated by swallowing a mixture of honey, cream, milk, carob, and crushed dates.

About the computer and such –
The term RGB stands for red, green, blue. It was a standard for color television tubes, and was later adapted for computer monitor screens.

The initials TCP/IP stand for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, a set of rules that allows computers to exchange data across the Internet. The Department of Defense developed TCP/IP and it has since been widely adopted as a networking standard.

A portal is a kind of "lobby" that an Internet user will visit before going on the Web. Many portals started out as search engines.

Before portals like Yahoo or MSN, text based Bulletin Board Services (BBSs) were popular online meeting places for people with modems. One of the first ones was America Online (AOL).

Just Stuff Q & A
Q:How did teenagers become a separate culture?
A:The word teenager first appeared in 1941, but the emancipation of that age group began forty years earlier when new laws freed children from hard labor and kept them in school. Until then, there was only childhood and adulthood. At the age of thirteen, a girl became a woman and could marry or enter the workforce and a boy became a man. Today, teenagers are treated as children with suppressed adult urges.

Q:Why is a formal suit for men called a "tuxedo"?
A:In the nineteenth century, the appreciated formal dress for men was a suit with long swallowtails. But one evening in 1886, Young Griswold Lorillard, the heir to a tobacco fortune, shocked his country club by arriving in a dinner jacket without tales. This fashion statement caught on, and the suit took on the name of the place Lorillard introduced it: Tuxedo Park, New York.

Q: According to recent media reports, Japanese women are suffering from Retired Husband Syndrome. What is this new malady and what havoc is the causing?
A: As the Japanese population ages, a burgeoning number of husbands are retiring to their homes. Pitched together after decades of separation, the retirees and their spouses often encounter problems, perhaps aggravated by traditional Japanese gender roles. In any case, symptoms of Retired Husband Syndrome include irritability, ulcers, rashes, and, in many cases, a rush to divorce lawyers.

Q: Which movie was not based on a Stephen King book?
a) Insomnia
b) The Green Mile
c) The Shawshank Redemption
d) Misery
e) Dolores Claiborne
A: a) Insomnia. King did write a novel called Insomnia, but it has never been turned into a movie. The film insomnia was based on a Norwegian film of the same name.

Q: Match the operas with their composers:
1) Tosca a)Gaetano Donizetti
2) Aida b) Giacomo Pucccini
3) The Barber of Seville c) Giuseppe Verdi
4) Lucia di Lammermoor d) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
5) Don Giovanni e) Gioacchino Rossini
A: 1) b. 2) c. 3) e. 4) a. 5) d.

Just Stuff – Sleepy Time
Changes in hormone levels make it harder for a woman to sing when she's pregnant. Rising hormones affect the vocal cords so more lung pressure is needed to hit certain notes.

Possibly the world's most famous lullaby, the song that begins "Lullaby, and good night" was written by Johannes Brahms, who never married and had no children.

NS-RED stands for Nocturnal Sleep Related Eating Disorder, also known as "sleep eating." Not only do sufferers leave their beds and wander around in their sleep, they make their way to the fridge and chow down – then remember nothing the morning after!

NS-RED affects twice as many women as men.

Strange and Interesting Stuff about Sports
When football was first being played in American colleges, there were so many injuries and accidents that Harvard University decided to forbid it. So on July 2, 1860, a football funeral was held. "Football Fightum," an effigy, was put into a coffin and buried in a grave by the sophomore class. But on the tombstone was written: "It will rise again" – and is certainly did.
The ballgame that came before other ballgames (such as tennis, baseball, and football) was handball. In Italy it was called pallone, in France jeu de paume, and in England fives. Why fives? Because the ball was struck by the hand – a "bunch of fives."

Married men wrestle against bachelors in Brazil, as part of a ceremonial dance. The unmarried men, dressed in feathery leggings and sleeves, line up to challenge their married brothers to wrestle.

Bowling is a popular sport in America, but don't bet on it. Betting on the game of bowling almost finished it as a sport. In the 1840s, Connecticut lawmakers banned it because too much gambling went on when people bowled. To stop the gambling, nine pin bowling was made illegal. To get around the law, bowlers added a tenth pin so they could bowl without breaking the law. Bowling has been using ten pins ever since.

One of the contests in the herdsman’s festival in Switzerland is the throwing of a 185-pound, egg shaped granite boulder. The dates on the rock commemorate the first Unspunnen Festival and its 100th anniversary.

Strange Stuff About Ordinary Things
If a cup of ketchup left the bottle and traveled indefinitely in a vacuum, it would move at the rate of 25 miles (40 km) per year.

Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as a medicine to "fortify the blood."

A nondairy creamer is flammable because it contains so much palm oil.

A powerful glass cleaner, used in the semiconductor industry, is made from a mixture of sulfuric acid and hydrogen peroxide. The mixture is so corrosive when applied to organic materials that it has been nicknamed the "piranha solution."

Murphy's Oil Soap is the chemical most commonly used to clean elephants.

Correction fluid was invented in 1951 by Bette Nesmith Graham. She is the mother of former Monkey Mike Nesmith.

The unique burn of a sparkler is caused by the tiny explosions of minute iron particles ejected from the rod. Iron, separated into fine enough particles, is very combustible.

Just Stuff Q&A
Q:How did the drink Gatorade get its name?
A:In 1963, Doctor Robert Cade was studying the effects of heat exhaustion on football players at the University of Florida. After analyzing the body liquids lost during sweating, Cade quickly came up with a formula for a drink to replace them. Within two years, Gatorade was a $50 million business. The doctor named his new health drink after the football team he used in his study, the Florida Gators.

Q:Why do we call a bad actor a "ham" and silly comedy "slapstick"?
A:In the late nineteen century, second-rate actors couldn't afford cold cream to remove their stage makeup, so they used ham fat and were called hamfatters until early in the twentieth century when these bad actors were simply called "hams." Physical comedy became known as "slapstick" because of its regular use of crude sound effects: Two sticks were slapped together offstage to accentuate a comics onstage pratfall (pratt being an old English term for buttocks).

Q:Why are vain the people said to be "looking for the limelight"?
A:In the early days of theater, the players were lit by gas lamps hidden across the front of the stage. Early in the twentieth century, it was discovered that if a stick of lime was added to the gas, the light became more intense, so they began to use the "limelight" to eliminate the spot onstage were the most important part of the play took place. Later called the "spotlight," the "limelight" was where all actors fought to be.

Q: Who released the Pentagon Papers?
a) Harian Ellison
b) Daniel Ellsberg
c) Daniel Berrigan
d) Ted Berrigan
e) Mark Felt
A: b) Daniel Ellsberg

Q: Which of the following men did not go to prison because of crimes committed during the Watergate scandal?
a) Elliott Lee Richardson
b) E. Howard Hunt
c) E. R. Haldeman
d) G. Gordon Liddy
e) John Ehrlichman
A: a) Elliott Lee Richardson. Richardson became Attorney General after the resignation of John Mitchell. When President Nixon ordered him to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Richardson refused and resigned.

Q: Who did fire the special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal?
A: Robert Bork. After his two superiors resigned in protest during the "Saturday Night Massacre," Solicitor General Bork became acting Attorney General. In his first official act, he fired Richard Nixon's nemesis.

Ready Set Invent
The ancient Greek natural philosopher Anaxagoras (500-428B.C.) thought that the sun and stars were made of red-hot stone, ignited by friction as they circled the earth. His theories might have been influenced by a meteorite that fell near his home in 460 7B.C.

A type of aerosol spray can was first introduced in France around 1790. The can contained a pressurized carbonated beverage.

In the year 1324, the English philosopher William of Ockham wrote that the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate – or "What can be accounted for by fewer assumptions is explained in vain by more." This approach came to be known as "Ockham's Razor," and proved valuable in scientific research.

In 1455, Gutenburg printed the first bible with movable type. Soon after this, he published books on herbs, medicines, and "simples" (herbs combined into teas and powders) – all of which became best sellers.

In 1824, the English scientist Michael Faraday invented the rubber balloon to use in his experiments with hydrogen gas.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Why did Italians frequently shout "Viva Verdi!" in the nineteenth century?
A: For two reasons. During the 1840s, when Milan was occupied by Austria, numerous clandestine groups supported Victor Emmanuel's campaign to unify the Italian states. To circumvent strict Austrian censorship, their effort was given the code name "Viva VERDI!", an acronym for Vittorio Emanuele Re D’Italia. Shouting "Viva VERDI!" enabled nationalists to boisterously declare their allegiances while outsiders assumed quite understandably that they were fans of the masterful opera composer.

Q: Name the four operas that constitute Richard Wagner's Ring of Nibelung Cycle.
A: Das Rheingold (The Rhinegold), Die Walkure (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Gotterdammerung (The Twilight of the Gods).

Q: Identify the classical composer and score most closely associated with the following films:
a) Apocalypse Now
b) Clockwork Orange
c) 2001: A Space Odyssey
d) Fatal Attraction
e) Ten
A: a) Richard Wagner, “Ride of the Valkyries.” b) Ludwig Van Beethoven, Symphony No. 9 c) Richard Strauss, Also Sprach Zarathustra. d) Giacomo Puccini, Madama Butterfly. e) Maurice Ravel, Bolero.

Q: On TV’s I Dream of Jeannie (1965 – 1970), what was actress Barbara Eden never permitted to do?
A: The censors wouldn’t let her show her sexy navel.

Q: On what island did King Kong live?
A: Before he was carted off to inhospitable New York City, Kong lived in tropical semi-seclusion on Skull Island.

Let's Talk Planets. Mercury
Mercury: Long Days, Short Years

Because Mercury is so close to the sun, it takes the small planet only eighty-eight days to complete one orbit. For comparison, it takes 365 days (one year) for Earth to travel around the sun.

Imagine a birthday every eighty-eight days.

Now for the weird part – while the years are really short on Mercury, the days are really long.

While it takes Earth only twenty-four hours to spin around once on its axis, it takes Mercury about fifty-nine Earth days to spin around once.

Now that would take some getting used to.

Hmm Just Stuff
Pilgrims who visit St. Patrick's Purgatory, a tiny island on a lake in Donegal, Ireland, have to observe certain strict rules. These include fasting on dry bread and black tea, and going barefoot all day.

The Torah, which consists of the Five Books of Moses, the first five books of the Bible, is found in every Jewish synagogue. But every single Torah is prepared in a very special way. A Torah must be written by hand, with a feather pen, and on a special kind of parchment.

What father had the most children? Well, in the Western world the palm must go to Niccolo III, who ruled the independent Italian city of Ferrara from 1393 to 1441. During his long reign, through a succession of wives and mistresses that shocked even his free and easy age, he fathered almost 300 children.

Just Buggy
Besides burrowing into mattresses, pillows, carpeting, and upholstered furniture, bed bugs can live in wood furniture, behind electrical outlets, under wallpaper, and inside picture frames, clocks, electronics, and smoke detectors.

When they feed, bed bugs can consume six times their weight in human blood.

James Harrington, a political philosopher and friend of England's King Charles I, was imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1660. During his incarnation he came to believe that his perspiration turned into flies and bees.

Whether Facts About Tornadoes
The Fujita Scale, named for Ted Fujita at the University of Chicago, is used to measure the intensity of tornadoes. Fujita’s scale ranges from F-0 (minor damage) to F-5 (severe destruction).

Tornadoes can form in clusters with several funnels touching down at once. These start out from a storm system called a supercell.

Sometimes a "low pressure explosion" can take place when a tornado suddenly creates a vacuum around a sealed structure. The higher pressure within the structure causes it to explode.

Although 70 percent of all deaths come from F-5 tornado's, only two percent of tornadoes qualify as F-5. About 69 percent of all tornadoes are F-1 or weaker, and 29 percent are F-2 to F-4.

Let's Talk Planets Facts About Venus
Average distance from the sun = 67,205,000 miles (108,200,000 km)

Equatorial diameter = 7, 517 miles (12,104 km)

Average temperature = 900°F (470°C)

Length of day = 244 Earth-days

Length of year = 224.7 Earth-days

What you would breathe (atmospheric composition) = 97% carbon dioxide, 3% nitrogen.

Number of moons - none

About Our Planet
Although Mount Everest, at a height of 29,028 feet (8,848 m) is called the tallest land-based mountain, the inactive Hawaiian volcano Mauna Kea is actually taller. Only 13,796 feet (4,205 m) of Mauna Kea rises above sea level, yet the mountain is a staggering 33,465 feet (10,200 m) tall if measured from the ocean floor. This means that Mauna Kea would be 4,437 feet (1,352 m) taller than Mount Everest if they were placed next to each other.

Mauna Kea typically stays snowcapped from December to May. Its name in Hawaiian means "White Mountain."

Geologists define dust as particles small enough to be carried by air currents.

Dust is the most widely dispersed terrestrial matter. Dust from the Southwestern United States regularly blows into the New England states.

Dust is important in the formation of rain and snow. Moisture condenses around dust particles so that precipitation can occur.

The dust that collects on clothing can provide detectives with important information about the movement of a crime suspect.

Dust can be combustible. Mixed with the right quantity of air, grain dust can spontaneously explode.



Just Stuff Q & A
Q: Canada has a newly named province. What is it?
A: Nunavut comprises the eastern part of the old Northwest Territories.

Q: Who were the two stars of I Spy?
A: Robert Culp and Bill Cosby played American agents fighting menacing foreigners in this popular series. I Spy ran from 1965 to 1968.

Q: What was extraordinary about the title character in the 1967 – 1975 television series Ironside?
A: Robert Ironside, a San Francisco detective, is wheelchair-bound. In this breakthrough series, detective Ironside (played by Raymond Burr) heads a special unit and traveled in a specially-equipped van.

Q: Who was the host of the television documentary series In Search of… from 1976 to 1982?
A: From 1976 to 1982, Leonard Nimoy hosted this weekly show, which investigated the unusual and the paranormal.

Q: In what year did The Beverly Hillbillies first rumble into Hollywood, California?
A: The Beverly Hillbillies, which starred Buddy Ebsen as the nouveau riche oil tycoon Jed Clampett, was first broadcast in 1962.

Odd Laws and Lawsuits
“Cole Porter has been swiping my tunes for just about long enough," Lenny decided – and he sued the famous songwriter for copyright infringement. It wasn't Lenny's first lawsuit, not by a long shot. Over the years, he sued five other composers for the same offense.
       Cole Porter hadn't dreamed up "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" all by himself, Lenny claimed. The tune came from Lenny's "A Mother’s Prayer." "Begin the Beguine" came from there, too. "Night and Day" was stolen from Lenny's "I Love You Madly," and "Don't Fence Me In" was right out of "A Modern Messiah."
       Lenny wanted "at least $1 million out of the millions Cole Porter is earning out of all the plagiarism." The judge asked Lenny where Porter might have heard his music in order to copy from it, Lenny pointed out that "A Mothers Prayer" had sold more than a million copies. As for the other pieces, most of them had been played at least once over the radio.
       Besides, Lenny claimed, Cole Porter "had stooges right along to follow me, watch me, and live in the same apartment with me." His room had been ransacked several times, he said.
       "How do you know Cole Porter had anything to do with it?" the judge asked. "I don't know that he had anything to do with it; I only know that he could have," Lenny explained.
       The district judge found Lenny's whole story fantastic and dismissed it. The appeals court, though, did find similarities between Lenny’s music and Cole Porter's. Yes, the judge admitted, that part about the stooges was pretty weird, but "sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. " It would be up to a jury to decide.
       Sadly for Lenny, the jury didn't swallow his story. He appealed again – he even petitioned the US Supreme Court – finally he had to compose himself and go home.

A man and a woman were dining at a restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The woman ordered an oyster dish. The oyster contains a pearl that was valued at $750. Both the woman and the restaurant owner claimed they owned the pearl, and the case went to court. The judge, in his attempt to make an impartial ruling, awarded the pearl to the gentleman who paid for the woman's dinner.

In Mahdia, Tnisia, a 67-year old philanthropist died, leaving his worldly goods to his wife, 9 children, 13 grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, friends, business associates, mailman, and secretary. He didn't, however, include his gardener or his barber. They've contested the will. The case is pending, and so far no one's collected a cent.

Drugstores in Providence, Rhode Island, may sell toothbrushes on Sunday – but not toothpaste.

A Minnesota tax form asked for all sorts of information. It requested that you fill in your date of birth and your date of death.

About Mother Earth
At 29,028 feet (8,708 m), Nepal's Mount Everest is the highest land-based mountain (a mountain that sits on dry land and not seafloor) in the world. Formed about 60 million years ago, Everest is named after Sir George Everest, the British surveyor who accurately calculated its height in 1800.

In Nepal, Mount Everest is called Sagarmatha, which means "goddess of the sky."

At 28,259 feet (8,478 m), the mountain K2 at the China – Pakistan border is the second-highest peak after Mount Everest.

The third highest mountain is Mount McKinley in Alaska – 20,320 feet (6,096 m) high.

Steam explosions can occur when a cold rain falls on the active volcano Kilauea on Hawaii's biggest island.

How Stars Get Together –

Star Groups: Local Groups
The Milky Way has about 40 galactic neighbors. Astronomers call this cluster of nearby galaxies the Local Group. It contains galaxies of all shapes and sizes – three of which can be seen with the naked eye (no telescope required).

The Andromeda galaxy is a large spiral galaxy that is 2.2 million light-years away. On a dark, clear night, it can be seen as a small, faint, oval-shaped smudge in the northern hemisphere constellation of Andromeda.

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are irregular galaxies. They are both smaller than the Andromeda galaxy, but since they are closer to the Milky Way, they appear larger and brighter in our skies.

The Large Magellanic Cloud, located in the southern hemisphere constellation of Dorado, is about 170,000 light-years away.

The Small Magellanic Cloud, located in the southern hemisphere constellation of Tucana, is about 200,000 light-years away.

Other galaxies within the Local Group are harder to see. They are smaller or more distant, or their light is blocked by large dust clouds within the Milky Way.

Star Groups: More Galaxy Clusters
Beyond the Local Group, there are even larger clusters of galaxies.

The Virgo cluster is about 50 million light-years away from us and contains almost 2000 galaxies. The Coma cluster is 300 million light-years away and contains as many as 10,000 galaxies. There are even super clusters of galaxies – clusters of galaxy clusters.

Yes – our universe is a really big place!

Odd Stuff In History
In the medieval city of Dinkelsbuhl in West Germany, a children’s festival is held each July. It's not a festival to entertain children – but to thank them. It commemorates the role of children in saving the city from destruction during the Thirty Years War, which was what from 1618 to 1648.

The Chinese used a shadow clock to tell the time more than 4500 years ago.

In 1903, a New England doctor named Nelson Jackson, who was on a vacation in San Francisco, made a bet that he could drive clear across the continent in the newfangled invention called the automobile.
       A few days later, the daring doctor bought himself a 2-cylinder, 20-horsepower, chain driven car and – with a companion – headed east on his pioneer journey.
       The trip covered 6,000 miles and 11 states. The top speed attained it was 20 miles per hour, and the roads were so bad that sometimes Jackson covered no more than 6 miles in a single day.
       Frequently, he was stopped dead by breakdowns. Even minor repairs because tires had to come all the way from Akron, and spare parts from Cleveland.
       Once, a farmer's wife purposely misdirected him so that her sister, who lived 50 miles away, would see a horseless carriage.
       But the intrepid Jackson pushed on as fast as he could go and he finally made the East Coast. It took him 63 exhausting days and cost them $8000 to win a $50 bet. . . but he was the first man in history to across the United States by car.

The Romans had no figure 40. They use letters of the alphabet for the numbers 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. This meant that they could not add columns of numbers.

Botanical Oddities
In ancient Egypt, the apricot was represented by a series of glyphs meaning "egg of the sun."

The philosopher Pliny the Elder believed that the souls of the dead resided in beans.

Noting his interest in botany, the explorers Lewis and Clarke wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson describing the goldenseal flower. They described it as "a sovereign remedy for sore eyes."

It takes 60 to 75 years for a saguaro cactus "found only in the southwestern United States" to grow branches. Since many saguaros have been destroyed by development and they grow so slowly, these cactuses have become one of America's most precious and highly protected natural resources.

The city of Gilroy, California, still makes the quaint claim that it's the "Garlic Capital of the World." However, Fresno County – the largest agriculture producing county in the United States – actually produces more garlic.

Just Stuff  Q & A
Q: One of these people doesn't belong in the list: Bix Beiderbecke, Gerald Ford, William Frawley, Herbert Hoover, Ann Landers, Glenn Miller, Donna Reed, Henry A. Wallace, John Wayne, Grant Wood. Name the anomaly.
A: With the exception of Gerald Ford, all of these Americans were born in Iowa. Ex-president Ford was born in Nebraska.

Q: In what country is Timbuktu located?
A: Mali.

Q: What does Iceland sit atop?
A: The mid-Atlantic ridge, which separates two great geologic plates, the North American and the Eurasian plates.

Q: Istanbul, Turkey is located in two continents, Europe and Asia. What country has other cities in two continents?
A: Kazakhastan. The cities of Uralsk and Atyrau straddle the Ural River, the hypothetical boundary between Europe and Asia.

Q: Pizza Hut is well known for their fast, efficient delivery service. What was their most historic Moscow delivery?
A: In 1991, after putting down an attempted coup, Russian President  Boris Yelstin and his supporters were still hold up in the Parliament Building, tired and apparently very hungry. With food supplies dwindling, the portly president and his triumphant comrades decided that they had a huge hankering for pizza. They dialed up Pizza Hut, ordered 260 pizzas (including some with extra toppings), 20 cases of Pepsi and enough hot coffee to keep them awake for the next counter-revolution. After the gunfire stopped, Yeltsin called Pizza Hut headquarters to thank them for their counter-revolutionary support.

Odd Laws and Lawsuits
In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the state house of representatives passed a law stating that the sum of $.25 can be charged to cut the hair of bald men.

In Nogales, Arizona, they "let it all hang out": It is illegal to wear suspenders.

A law in Boston, Massachusetts, has rendered it illegal bathe without a written prescription from a doctor.

In Lake Charles, Louisiana, there is a law making it illegal for a rain puddle to remain on your front lawn for more than 12 hours.

Two attorneys in Hartford, Connecticut, wrote their own wedding vows. The vows of Bernard Prothroe and Annamarie Kendall covered 47 single-spaced, 8 ½ x 14-inch, type written pages. It took the officer more than five hours to read them. By the time the ceremony was over, 90% of the guests had left – including the parents of the bride and groom.

Early Medicine
One remedy that apothecaries (whom we now call pharmacists) borrowed from a recipe by the Greek doctor Galen, was called theriac or treacle. It included over 50 ingredients, including the bark of trees and skins of snakes, took 40 days to prepare, and had to "cure" for 12 years! Medieval doctors claimed that treacle cured everything – and most people believed them.

Astrology was important to doctors during the middle ages. Astrologers were often called on to forecast the spread of the Black Death.

Several famous female herbalists lived in the 10th and 11th centuries. The most prominent was Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179), a German nun who composed music that is still performed today.

To treat smallpox, a medieval doctor would arrange red drapery around the patient's bed. This practice may have had a magical reason, or perhaps was an attempt to protect the patient from disturbing light.

In medieval times, thousands of people died from what are treatable diseases today – influenza, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis.

How Stars Get Together –
Star Groups: The Milky Way
Our sun is located in a spiral galaxy recalled the Milky Way.

Shaped like a huge, flattened pinwheel, the main disk of our galaxy is about 160,000 light-years in diameter and 2000 light-years thick. The spiral arms are located within this disk.

At the center of the flattened disk is the galactic core, a bright sphere of stars 7,000 to 10,000 light-years in diameter. Within the very center of the core, astronomers believe there is a giant black hole – one that contains the mass of 2.6 million suns.

Our sun is located along one spiral arm within the galaxy’s main disk, about 26,000 light years from the core.

From Earth, the Milky Way can best be seen in the evening skies from August through October. During these months, observers see a narrow, hazy streak of light stretching across the sky from the north to the south. This streak is made up of the light of billions of stars located within the more distant spiral arms of the Milky Way.

Stars located within the same spiral arm as our sun can be seen every night, stars such as the North Star and the ones that make up the constellations.

Interesting Customs
In hot climates, perspiration is good for the body, and a dry skin is an indication of fever. So in Cairo, many people greet each other with the salutation "How do you sweat?"

Everybody knows about Big Ben, the Bell in the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London. But why is it called Big Ben? It was originally called St. Stephen's Bell. The Commissioner of Works, Sir Benjamin Hall, had much to do with putting up the new Houses of Parliament in 1851. He was an enormous man, and folks called him Big Ben. When the question came up in Parliament what to name the great bell that was to be hung in the tower, a member called out, "Why not call it Big Ben?" – and the name stuck.

The most unusual commuters in the world are Turks who make a 10 minute ferry trip every day. They go across the Bosporus from Uskudar to Istanbul. In those 10 minutes they actually commute from one continent, Asia, to another, Europe.

With the globalization of film, television, and all kinds of communication, customs, clothing styles, and even food are becoming more and more alike all over the world.
            One of the things that people in Europe and America have taught the rest of the world is to kiss! The Chinese didn't have the custom of kissing. Neither did the Japanese. In Samoa, the kiss is really a sniff. The Polynesians – and the Eskimo – rub noses together.
            So the kiss, as a form of affection, actually developed rather late in human history. But it seems to be here to stay.

In certain countries, different dialects are spoken in different sections. But in India, while Hindi and English are the chief official languages, hundreds of other languages are spoken. In fact, a great many Indians cannot understand Indians from another part of their own country at all!

About Space
Astronomers can determine if stars are moving away from us, and how fast, by noting the color of the light they produce in a spectrometer. A "red shift" indicates motion away, since the light waves are stretched into longer wavelengths of red and orange. A "blue shift" reveals motion towards us, as light waves are compressed into shorter wavelengths of blue and violet.

A ring of ice and rock orbits the sun beyond planet Neptune. Called the Kuiper Belt, astronomers believe that it's the remains of the debris that clumped together to form the solar system 5 billion years ago. The new planet, Quaoar, was discovered in the Kuiper Belt.

Most meteorites come from the asteroid belt, others come from the moon, Mars, and from comets.

The astronomer Harvey H. Nininger is considered the "Father of Meteoritics.” He was the first to do an extensive study of Arizona's Meteor Crater in 1939. His discovery of silica bombs and shocked quartz at the site proved that the crater was formed by impact and not by volcanic activity. Nininger was also the first to use the then novel metal detector to find meteorites.

Meteorites are one of the most valuable sources of information about the formation of the early solar system.

Just Stuff  Q & A
Q:How old is Tony the Tiger?
A: Tony's exact age is uncertain, but when he was first introduced as a Kellogg's spokes- tiger in 1952, he already had an imposing growl, Tony the Tiger got the job after besting Katy the Kangaroo in a close nationwide vote the previous year. Katy, Elmo the Elephant, Newt the Gnu and the other losers disappeared without a trace.  

Q: Which mint is "two mints in one"?
A:Certs, which is both a breath mint and a candy mint.

Q: If you "ask any mermaid you happen to see, ’what's the best tuna?’"
A: Chicken of the Sea. But, is that the first question you would ask a mermaid?

Q: Speaking of mermaids: Who played the nautical flapper in the 1984 movie splash?
A: As a part-time mermaid, Daryl Hannah won the hearts of Tom Hanks and millions of moviegoers.

Q: Fill in the blanks for these sixties advertisements:
            1) "… is the one beer to have when you're having more than one."
            2) "Hey, Mabel, …"
            3) "When you're out of … you’re out of beer."
 A: 1) Schaefer. 2) (Carling) Black Label. 3) Schlitz

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