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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

A little of this – a little of that.
How short can the name of a place be? It can have just one letter - In France there is a village named Y, and A is the name of a village in Norway.

Mexico City is built on an underground reservoir. Each year, the number of people in the city grows, and more water is taken out of the reservoir. As a result, the city is slowly sinking at a rate of about 6 to 8 inches a year.

If you've eaten in a Chinese restaurant recently, you've probably received a fortune cookie along with the check. (By the way, fortune cookies are as American as apple pie.) The D & E Research Institute in Ithaca, New York, evaluated the effect of these fortune cookies.
      The Institute contacted the owners of local Chinese restaurants, who agreed to help with this three-week study. After restaurant guests were given their text, and divided up their cookies, and had read their fortunes, the waitpersons would record their names, addresses and phone numbers, and the fortune that was written on the message tucked in the cookie. A year later these people were contacted and asked: In the last year, was the following statement (their fortune) true about your life?
     Amazingly, 80% said that the fortune predicted had come true.

Strange stuff about ordinary things.
Rice paper isn't made from rice but from the small "rice paper tree" (Tetrapanax papyriferum) that grows in China and Japan.

Apples are more efficient than caffeine in waking you up in the morning. The apples contain a form of fructose that’s particularly effective for alertness.

Banana oil doesn’t come from banana’s but from petroleum.

Pumice is a stone so porous that it floats in water.

Magnetic iron (magnetite) is produced from iron by the metabolism of tiny bacteria that live in iron ore. Living without light or air, these bacteria eat the ore, which then undergoes a molecular transformation and is excreted as magnetite.

Star Groups: Galaxies
A galaxy is the largest collection of astronomical objects in the universe.

In addition to containing anywhere from a few millions to hundreds of billions of stars, galaxies contain planets, comets, moons, and everything else that I've mentioned in the past.

Galaxies also come in different shapes:
Spiral galaxies look like twirling pinwheels with small, bright, round scores.

Elliptical galaxies can be egg-shaped or almost completely round like a ball.

Irregular galaxies have no common shape. Instead, they look more like odd-shaped clouds.

Peculiar galaxies have large amounts of intense radiation pouring out of them, and astronomers aren't sure why.

Odd Laws And Lawsuits
In Oklahoma there it was a legendary legislator named "Alfalfa Bill" Murray. He was a rather tall chap and was continually irked when he went into hotels and found the bed linens too short to cover his long, lanky body. So in 1908 he had a law passed requiring all hotels to have 9 foot sheets.
You can file suit against the devil himself and have your day in court, Adolph found, but you won't necessarily get any satisfaction. Adolph filed a civil rights action against "Satan and his staff." The defendant, he claimed, had "on numerous occasions caused him misery" and had "placed deliberate obstacles in his path and caused his downfall."
            That might well be, said the judge, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. First, he noted, "we question whether Adolph may obtain personal jurisdiction over the defendant in this judicial district." Nobody knew for sure whether Satan had his legal residence there.
            The case might be considered in a class action, the judge went on, but that was going to be tough given the vast size of the "class" – and the question of whether Adolph’s claims were representative of everyone else's. Finally, the judge noted, Adolph hadn't given any instructions as to exactly how the US Marshall was supposed to serve process on Satan and his servants.
            In this case, at least, the Devil came out "not guilty."

As the salutatorian of her high school class, Shelly took her grade point average seriously – very seriously. One day she missed algebra class. Since she had no excuse, the teacher lowered her grade – and that meant a slip in her overall grade point average from 95.478 to 95.413.
            Now .065 might not sound like much; but to Shelly’s dad, Ralph, you start letting the little things go and pretty soon the big ones will follow. Ralph saw only one solution: to sue the school board for $1 million.
            That docked grade point was a violation of his daughters Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, Ralph told the court. The judge consented to the reinstatement of the grade points, but he refused to award any money. Ralph appealed the decision, hoping at least to get his attorney's fees paid – but the appeals court judge was so exasperated he took the grade points away again. "Patently insubstantial" was how the judge saw the case.

Ready Set Invent
The first submarine was designed in 1578 by an English mathematician. The first submarine was built in 1620 by Cornelius van Drebbel a Dutch inventor.

In 1776, the American colonist David Bushnell billed the first submarine used for military purposes. Used in the American Revolution, this one-man "Turtle" was powered by hand-cranked wooden propellers.

Air-filled tires were used on bicycles before they were used on cars.

The first machine to show animated movies was called the "wheel of life" and patented by William Lincoln in 1867. The machine, lit by an arc lamp, showed a series of drawings, which appeared to move when rotated and then viewed through a slit.

A 4,700 year-old coffin from an Egyptian pyramid at Saqqara was found to be made of six layers of wood veneer, sandwiched and glued together like plywood. The woods were cyprus, juniper, and cedar of Lebanon.

Around 1750, the first glue formula was patented in Britain. It used fish oil.

Just Stuff Q & A
Q: What product advertised that "a little dab will do you"?
A: Brylcreem.

Q: "Where's the Beef?" was the ad slogan for what hamburger chain?
A: Wendy’s.

Q: Fill in the product name blanks: "Hot dogs, … hotdogs. What kind of kids love … hot dogs? Fat kids, skinny kids, kids to climb on rocks."
A: Armour. And what to tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chickenpox put on their Armor hot dogs? "Mustard, ketchup, lots of relish too, pickles, onions, even peanut butter too."

Q: Of which cola is it said, "It's the real thing"?
A: Coca-cola.

Q: What coffee is "Good to the last drop"?
A: Maximal House coffee. The advertising slogan reportedly comes from a 1907 comment by President Theodore Roosevelt. After he was served with a cup of the beverage, Roosevelt reportedly opined that the coffee was "good to the last drop."

Interesting & Odd Facts About Nature

If you measure a day as lasting from sunrise to sunset, there is a time of year in Spitzbergen, Norway, when a "day" day lasts three and a half months! The town is so close to the North Pole that the sun shines continuously all summer.

If you stand on a scale at the equator, you will weigh less then at the North Pole. This is because the equator is further from the Earth's center, and the pull of gravity is less there.

Everyone can see mist rising from boiling water but, strictly speaking, that is not steam. Steam is not only invisible, it is not even wet! It ceases to be steam and becomes a visible mist when water droplets are formed by a drop in temperature.

The Danish island of Mano, which is off the mainland, Jutland, is reached by its inhabitants in an unusual way: They drive to it on the bottom of the sea.
     During ebb tide, the sea is between the island and the mainland becomes a road. There is a track marked by dead trees, and automobiles and carts can go back and forth on this road. But that's only during six hours a day. When the high tide returns, the road is covered by five feet of water.

About the computer and such.

In the mid-1940s, engineer John von Neumann made important improvements in computer design. His "stored memory" design allowed a computer to handle more complicated programs, and his idea for a central processing unit (C P U) allow electronic functions to be concentrated in a single source. In 1951, the UNIVAC I (Universal Automatic Computer) became the first computer to use these features. One of the UNIVAC's impressive early achievements was predicting that Dwight D. Eisenhower would win the 1952 presidential election.

The language used to create web pages is called HTML, which stands for "hypertext markup language." HTML allows webmasters to insert special tags into their pages that tell the browser how to display text and graphics.

Computers that store and deliver information to other computers across the Internet are called servers. They "serve" by receiving a request from your PC, called a client, and delivering the data.

A fumbling beginner on the Internet is sometimes referred to as a "newbie."

The standard protocol for sending e-mail is SMTP, for "simple mail transfer protocol." This protocol packages your message into a kind of envelope and sends it to a series of servers. Each server leaves information on the message so that the receiver may see the message route.

How Stars Get Together

Star Groups: Open Clusters
Open clusters are small groups that contain anywhere from 50 to 1000 stars.

Stars within these clusters were all formed from the same diffuse nebula. Since these young stars are all about the same age, an open cluster is sometimes compared to a kindergarten class.

The Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, is one of the brightest examples of an open cluster in our skies.

Although several stars will stay together as multiple star systems, this cluster as a whole will gradually drift apart.

Star Groups: Galactic Clusters
Galactic cluster is just another name for "open cluster" – a group of 50 to 1000 young stars.

These clusters form within the plane of our galaxy. The term galactic helps astronomers to distinguish these clusters from the larger globe Euler clusters that formed on the outer fringes of the galaxy.

Star Groups: Globular Clusters
Globular clusters are huge, tightly packed spheres containing anywhere from 50,000 to 1 million stars.

These brilliant clusters formed early during the creation of our galaxy, so they are made up of fairly old stars.

And these old stars aren't going anywhere. They are trapped within the cluster by the strong combined gravity of all the other stars.

Globular clusters can be found above and below the plane of our galaxy in a region known as the galactic halo. As result, they are much farther away from us then open clusters and appear fainter in our skies.

Even at such great distances, the globular cluster is a beautiful sight to look at through a telescope.

Odd Stuff In History
Sometimes we feel that good bathrooms are a sign of the advance of modern civilization. At Knossos, on the island of Crete, there are ruins of a palace that was built about 4,000 years ago. It contains complete bathrooms with modern drainage systems.

Gold certainly has a way of changing history. A gold rush will cause all kinds of people to settle in faraway places. And gold changed the whole history of Australia.
            The British used to send convicts from their overflowing prisons to the American colonies. After the War of Independence, they had to find another place – and picked Australia.
            Between 1788 and 1868, the British transported 155,000 convicts to Australia, which made it quite a penal colony. But in 1851 gold was discovered there, and that changed everything. The gold rush brought all kinds of "good people" from all over the world to Australia – and the new continent started a whole new life.

The first escalator in Britain was put in Harrods department store in 1898. An attendant waited at the top and handed a glass of brandy to any customer who was upset by the ride.

The only people in all of Europe who speak a Semitic language are the natives of the island of Malta. It is believed by some experts that Maltese is partly derived from the ancient dead language of the Phoenicians. But it is definitely a Semitic language, like Arabic and Hebrew.

About Mother Earth
Unlike other terrestrial planets in our solar system, Earth has only about 120 impact craters on its surface. Water and wind erosion, as well as erupting volcanoes and earthquakes, have erased most of them.

Geologists have identified an 112-mile (180 km) diameter crater in Mexico that they believed was formed by a particularly violent meteoritic explosion. The meteorite, estimated to be 6 miles (9.6 km) in diameter, may have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs. The crater, named Chixalub (pronounced "sheesh-ah-loob”) is estimated to be about 65 million years old.

The largest known impact crater on Earth is the Vredefort Ring in South Africa. It has a diameter of 186 miles (299 km) and was formed about 2 billion years ago.

The Marianas Trench, and elongated valley on the floor of the Pacific Ocean, is the deepest depression on Earth. A United States Navy bathyscape reached the bottom in 1960 and measured its depth at 35,798 feet (10,739 m).

Deep in the Marianas Trench, the temperature of the water is always just above freezing, and the pressure is more than 1000 times what is on the surface, but many bottom-dwelling fish and invertebrates: home.

Just Stuff  Q & A
Q: Who invented roller skates?
A: It is generally believed that a Belgian mechanic and maker of musical instruments named Joseph Merlin built the first roller skates in 1770. Merlin wore his invention to a party in a fashionable section of London, where he ended up crashing into an expensive mirror. After this, he wisely put his skates away. The first patent for roller skates was issued to a Monsieur Petitbled in France in 1819. But, despite his claims to the contrary, they were not great at making turns.

Q: When was roller-skating introduced to America?
A: In 1863, Massachusetts businessman James Plimpton decided to place skate wheels on springs, with two parallel sets of wheels, one pair under the ball of the foot and the other pair under the heel. Plimpton skates were the first that could gracefully turn and maneuver a curve. After this improvement, roller-skating caught on all over the world.

Q: Where is the National Museum of Roller Skating?
A: Founded in 1980 and opened in 1982, the National Museum of Roller Skating is on the northwest corner of Forty-eighth and South Streets in Lincoln, Nebraska. The museum possesses the largest collection of historical roller skates in the world. The museum is closed on holidays and weekends.

Q: In the on unenlightened days before cigarette advertising was banned, ads for cigarettes were everywhere. Can you match the ad slogans with the cigarette brands?
1) "I'd rather fight than switch."                          
2) "I'd walk a mile for a …"                                            
3) " … Tastes good like a cigarette should."      
4) "… /M.F.T. … Means fine tobacco."                

A. Lucky Strike      B. Winston    C. Camel    D. Tareyton

A: 1=D.    2=C.    3= B.    4= L.S./M.F.T

Q: Can you identify the toothpaste brand, and finished this line? "You'll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with …"
A: Pepsodent.

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