Facts of the Day Category

Suckled by Goats

26 Oct 2009 In: Facts of the Day

It has been, speaking precisely, an age and a half plus a freckle past a hair since I posted a “Fact of the Day.” Oh, I still get them. But they repeat. And repeat. Or they come through while I’m in the midst of the very important things I do… you know – those things I do… And thus I do not always read them. But today, I was treated to this:

The word “Taiwanese” means “suckled by goats.”

There’s something inherently funny about the phrase “suckled by goats.” Is, too! Okay, to ME then. ENJOY!

Tinker With THIS

26 Mar 2007 In: Facts of the Day

Another riveting Fact of the Day:

Shelta is an esoteric jargon based on Irish and Gaelic, and it is still spoken by tinkers and vagrants in some parts of Ireland and England.

‘Kay. I haven’t any problem with the idea of an “esoteric jargon” existing. Dialects and sub-dialects are used all around the World. Your garden-variety “esoteric jargon is not a surprise.

This is the part about which I am dubious – there are still tinkers? Vagrants persist, yes – despite the old-fashioned description. But TINKERS?

Tinkers used to travel about the countryside selling and repairing pots, pans, utensils and farming tools. It seems the whole Home Depot concept (or even the neighborhood hardware store) would render the “tinker” concept obsolete. Yes, we use the WORD as such:

verb [ intrans. ] attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect : he spent hours tinkering with the car.

• [ trans. ] archaic attempt to mend (something) in such a way.

But some wee wizened (they just have to be wizened, I don’t know WHY) tradesperson carrying wares and tools with which to repair a customer’s – uhm, metal things- in a cart or in baskets or bags? Would there be a donkey, ass or other beast of burden involved?

Okay, okay – several sources assert that a “tinker” is a pejorative term for “Irish Traveller” (not unlike “Gypsies” – another derogatory term used to describe the Roma people and other ethnic nomadic peoples of the world – a phrase sometimes mistakenly attributed to Irish Travellers), an itinerant people who still travel throughout Ireland, Great Britain and even the United States. Evidently they refer to themselves as “the Pavee.”

Upon further contemplation I realize that Johnny Depp portrayed a “Traveller” in Chocolat, which makes the concept VERY appealing. Nevertheless, he fixed doors and a boat and was very pleasing to the EYE. I still maintain that the whole pot, pan, utensil-fixing persona is extinct.

Yes, every day (precisely at 7:00 p.m. MST) I STILL receive the “Fact of the Day” text message on my cell phone. I used to pay two or three cents EACH for this privilege, but I believe that the cost of these messages is now rolled into my cell phone texting package. It’s a good thing, because they repeat A LOT. If I receive that “mushroom collecting” message ONE MORE TIME I do believe I might just have to send the Fact of the Day people some “special” mushrooms – ALL OF THE LETHAL – and each one TOUCHING THE OTHER.

However, everyone once in a while I receive something choice; a bon mot that tickles my fancy, or something EXTREMELY informative. I have been saving three thematically-related FOTD’s for quite a while, now, and I feel ready to share them with you:

  • Human skin has about 100,000 bacteria per square centimeter. 10% of human dry weight is due to bacteria.
  • According to a recent study after 6 years of use, 30% of the weight of average bed pillow is made up of dead skin.
  • Wearing headphones for just one hour increases the bacteria in your ears by 700 percent.

Bacteria and dead skin – HOW COOL IS THAT? Some people think that Kate the Safety Dog is germ-phobic. There are times I have been NECESSARILY germ-conscious, what with Sarah being immunocompressed and all, but I would not go so far as “phobic.” In fact, I find these particular bits of information most amusing – like eyelash bugs. Oh – and those little insects (I cannot affirm if they are or are not technically insects, but close enough) that eat the dead skin off your bed and keep you company during the long, lonely nights – I LOVE them!

Spiders, however, are WRETCHED and FILTHY and are promptly sentenced to death if they compromise the sacred perimeters of my bed. SHUDDER and a half. If I had a perilous swarm of flies or some other insect danger, I might appreciate the concept of arachnid intervention. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE; I have no jobs for them. And, ironically, as we have a surfeit of “hobo” spiders here, they can just pack up their wee web bags and skitter off TO THE GREAT OUTDOORS.

If Only We Had a Tiny Elvis…

4 Dec 2006 In: Facts of the Day

Nano technology has produced a guitar no bigger than a blood cell. The guitar, 10 micrometers long, has six strummable strings.

Faulty Reckoning

15 Mar 2006 In: Facts of the Day

Oh, Fact of The Day (FOTD), what have you done NOW?

Take a look at one of the most recent “factual” tidbits I received:

A tanka is a Japanese verse form of 31 syllables in 5 unrhymed lines, the first and third having 7 syllables each, and the others 7.

Hmmm. I haven’t had cause to do all that much arithmetic in recent years, but something strikes me as ODD about the above-mentioned FOTD. Perhaps it is because I recently found out that I could, indeed, still pass eighth grade math that I find the previous calculation suspect.

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 9/10 correct!

And yes, secretly I took the test several times over until I could figure out which question I was getting wrong, so now I have a score of 10/10.

With my freshly-reinforced mathematics acumen I have deduced the following:
Now I am a scientist, a philosopher, AND a mathematician.

Doesn’t “add” up, does it. And if you, as I, were dying of curiosity to see which lines in the “tanka” form had a different number of syllables (ideally FEWER than seven), look here.

Fungi FURY

2 Mar 2006 In: Facts of the Day

I was this close – THIS CLOSE – to exploding or imploding, depending on the prevailing winds and the presence or lack thereof of vacuum-like conditions, with complete and utter AGGRAVATION at those despicable Fact of the Day (FOTD) people. Hari-kari* even seemed like an apt choice. Why? Because there, in my text message inbox, was the DAMN MUSHROOM COLLECTING MESSAGE AGAIN. Oh, how many times have I absolutely FUMED about the redundancy of this message – not to mention the fact that it was so SILLY in the first place – does everyone on the earth suffer from a COMPLETE lack of common sense? Let’s see, I believe I mentioned it here, here and – oh yes – HERE. Those dim-witted FOTD Purveyors owe me scores and scores of pennies!

But WAIT! Perhaps I’ve been too rash… It is not that exact message I’ve received about a bazillion times previously. They have appended a phrase onto the end:

An elementary rule of mushroom collecting is never to place edible and poisonous specimens together. The slightest touch may contaminate.

There it is: “The slightest touch may contaminate.” The wisdom – the acumen – contained in that one sentence makes all the difference. Oh, FOTD Purveyors, I NEVER KNEW! Perish the thought – the slightest touch…

This, however, begs the question: “WHY IN THE HELL DO PEOPLE DELIBERATELY COLLECT POISONOUS MUSHROOM SPECIMENS IN THE FIRST PLACE?” If one can, indeed, tell the difference between edible and poisonous varieties, as the FOTD Mongers would have us believe, why don’t the mushroom collectors LEAVE THE POISONOUS SPECIMENS ALONE???

I can come up with only one rational hypothesis. This advice is meant, and has ALWAYS been intended for homicidal mycologists with somewhat limited botanical expertise. It’s a call for SEPARATE GATHERING CONTAINERS. Evidently, there has been one too many mix-ups of the delicacies and the fatal toxins. The FOTD Providers are subtly implying a more clear-cut fungus collecting policy for Murderers by Mushroom. Let’s imagine the following scenario:

Ah – white liquid called ‘latex’ oozing from the gills – here is the delectable Lactarius hygrophoroides, commonly known as the Hygrophorus Milky. I shall carefully place that in the BLUE basket to include in tonight’s pasta; it will be scrumptious! But WAIT – could it be? Only closer examination will tell… The cap is slippery, wide and smooth, with greenish-yellowish pigments; it’s adorned with several patches of thin white veil tissue. The gills are white, crowded together, and very finely attached to the upper stalk. The stalk is pallid with a large rounded bulb at the base – and SAINTS BE PRAISED – the stalk and the tell-tale, sac-like volva are buried in the soil!!! Oh, YES, YES, YES – I’ve happened upon the MOST DANGEROUS MUSHROOM IN THE WORLD, Amanita phalloides or The Death Cap. I’ll put that into the RED basket for the DEMISE SOUP. Ha ha HE HA HEEEE HAAAAA HEEEEE HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA [and other maniacal laughter]!

Now imagine what could have happened WITHOUT separate baskets!

That’s the only likelihood I’ve postulated, so it must be correct. This leads me to put forth an astute proposal of my own:

Never, EVER eat the “Demise Soup!”

It may sound French, but it AIN’T.

*A variant of harakiri, sometimes called seppuku.

I have, in the past, PROVEN that I am not a crazy cat lady (yet), but here’s a little piece of information that implies, perhaps, that there is hidden brilliance in my CHOICE of Kitten Children:

The favorite horses of both Alexander the Great (Bucephalos) and Julius Caesar both had atavistic mutations – extra toes.

See – great conquering world leaders of ancient history had beloved MUTANT animals. And BOTH of my Kitten Children have significant genetic mutations; they are both “authentic” tri-coloured cats – BeBe is a tortoiseshell (with a brindled coat) and Fioana is a Calico (indicating that she has the “piebald spotting gene” which allows for the big white patches of fur). This means that they both inherited an X-linked gene – the “O” gene – which causes a cat to have orange or “ginger” fur. In the case of a tri-coloured cat, they do not inherit two “O” genes, which would make them a genetically “orange” or “ginger” cat. Moreover, because of a process called “X-chromosome inactivation,” some cells activate the “O” gene, causing orange/ginger colouring, and other cells randomly activate the same position as the “O” gene on the other X chromosome. Therefore you can automatically assume that most tri-coloured cats are female (since it’s the reaction in the two heterozygous X chromosomes that cause the unusual colouring). So any male tri-coloured cats are GENUINE genetic mutants, usually sterile, because it is often gender anomalies (they sometimes are XYY or XXY instead of the “normal” male configuration of XY) that allow them to have the X-linked colouring.

Thus, either I am brilliant and should capitalize on my natural head for government/leadership and I will be extraordinarily famous, or I am a narcissistic megalomaniac and will die young, yet extraordinarily famous. It all depends on how you look at it.

I was named after Catherine “the Great” (Catherine II of Russia), but it was completely arbitrary (and my Parent’s didn’t even keep the spelling – which is fine with me – I much prefer the letter “k” and think two syllables are quite enough). So you may keep any vulgar equine-related jokes to YOURSELVES.

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Oklahoma? Perhaps NOT “OK”

10 Nov 2005 In: Facts of the Day

Here I was thinking that Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska were pretty much the same thing (Iowa, too – am I forgetting any? Perhaps the Dakotas…). Okay, granted – Oklahoma has a namesake musical and therefore a title song, and Kansas has a namesake band. But other than that they consist essentially of vast FLAT expanses interrupted only by fields (corn, wheat – what have you). Then I received this FOTD:

Bore-hole seismometry indicates that the land in Oklahoma moves up and down 25 cm throughout the day, corresponding with the tides.

“Oklahoma – where the land undulates just enough each day to make one motion sick due to the tides…” No wonder this is NOT common knowledge. It completely RUINS the song. It also begs the question: WHAT TIDES? Oklahoma sits virtually centered horizontally in the Country (LANDLOCKED, need I add). So, which ocean one could not say. Perchance Lake Michigan? I positively know that I can’t ever think of the plains in the same way; I will wonder how many centimeters they might be rising and falling right beneath one’s feet.

And THEN what?????

20 Apr 2005 In: Facts of the Day

Usually, a “Fact of the Day” text message will merely cause me to remark, “Hmm,” or “That’s interesting,” or “That’s too stupid to even qualify as a FACT,” or “HOW MANY TIMES AM I GOING TO RECEIVE THE SAME MUSHROOM-COLLECTING TIP!” But one day last week I actually received a “Fact of the Day” message that left me exclaiming, “And then what????” It is the very first cliffhanger “Fact” I’ve received. Here ’tis:

An old folk custom for selecting a husband from several suitors involved taking onions and writing each suitor’s name individually on each.

And then? AND?? Why ONIONS???? WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE ONIONS????? I do not like this. I know that my cellular phone provider is not going to resolve this question. I PAY for these “facts,” and don’t think that I should have to spend my valuable time (I know, I know, but please don’t crush my little fantasy world) Googling and doing other very scientific research to find the answer. Not going to do it. I think I shall just open this up to the vast knowledge out there in cyberspace and have my readers contribute possible solutions (I know that puts quite a bit of pressure on the three or four of you, but, after all, you are a bunch of smarty pants).

While you ponder the abovementioned query, perhaps you might also consider these great mysteries:

  • Why, when I emptied its pockets to launder my jeans jacket did I find a little pile of Canadian money? I should tell you that I’ve never TAKEN that jacket to Canada; in fact, I don’t think I owned it the last time I went to Canada. Besides, since it was February of last year I wouldn’t have considered wearing something not made of wool or down or a super-scientific high-tech fabric of considerable warmth. In other words, IT WAS VERY, VERY COLD.
  • Why do spiders get in my bed????? That violates the arachnid code of any abode in which I choose to reside. My bedroom is sanctified, NON-SPIDERY space. And it’s one thing if they try to hide in laundry that I’ve left on the floor for a long time or in a far corner on the ceiling; this is an infringement of the rules, but NOT the egregious and unforgivable infraction aforementioned. Getting in the bed is conceited FLOUTING of the arachnid code. I am not a violent person, but such a violation results in an immediate death sentence. And the very suspiciously-poisonous looking specimen hanging from the canopy right above my head last night – the freakin’ HUGE specimen, I might add – didn’t even get the swift and merciful squishing that a less smug, brash relative might have. I shook it into a plastic bag (eeeeeew), made sure the top of the bag was secure, shook the bag very thoroughly so the little beast would stay at the bottom (yuck!), sang the spider song – which is gloomy yet poignant- (always sung in a minor key: “Spider, Spider, Everywhere a Spider” and so on), and then I dumped it into the commode (recoiling shiver!!!), cursed it and FLUSHED IT TO THE SEWER UNDERWORLD (which I figure is not unlike the mythical river Styx, “The River of Hate!!!!!!” or one those other rivers around Hades). HAH! You’d think this would teach spiders to stay in NATURE like they just SHOULD!
  • Why am I just a little tiddly bit arachnophobic? Spiders are supposed to eat the flies and mosquitoes, but spiders or no spiders, I don’t think there would be much of a fly or mosquito problem IN MY BED. And spiders are filthy!!! Spider bites are notoriously, hideously dirty and easily infected. That’s just…ookey. And if you don’t believe me, I’ll tell you the story of the woman in my sister’s neighborhood who thought that the spider bite was no big deal and treated it herself with some sort of poultice. By the time she realized it really WAS a big deal she had gangrene and had to have her leg amputated. And then she DIED anyway. That is a true story.

Never mind that last one; I believe I have answered my OWN question.


24 Mar 2005 In: Facts of the Day

I believe it’s about damn time for a new “Fact of the Day.” I’m still getting a “new” text message each day. I say “new,” but I’ve actually received a surprising number of duplicates. You’d think they’d be able to find SOME sort of meaningless drivel on a daily basis without repeating themselves (and meaningless drivel it typically is), but apparently the “Fact of the Day” think-tank could use a little help. Interestingly, I’ve seen the “elementary rule of mushroom collecting” fact at LEAST three times since I’ve been a FOTD subscriber. Do people really need to be reminded of this – oh, shall we say a simple issue of common sense – so often? PEOPLE, use caution with your fungi, for crying out loud!

Here is a new NEW fact:

The world is not round. It is an oblate spheroid,
flattened at the poles, and bulging at the equator.

Maybe they weren’t that off in the olden days, after all. No, the world is not FLAT, but it is FLATTENED at the poles – Close enough.

Whether flat or round (but DEFINITELY bulging at the equator – aren’t we ALL – well, actually I am much more of a pear, so perhaps in planetary terms that makes me a gourd-like spheroid? I don’t know a cool and scientific way to say “far more bulbous on the lower half.”). I just like saying “oblate spheroid.” Try it. “Oblate spheroid.” “Oblate spheroid?” “OBLATE SPHEROID!” It sounds nearly vulgar and threatening, with the flavor (a soupcon, shall we say) of some medical condition.

“He has an acute oblate spheroid with the expected pulmonary complications. I’m so sorry.”



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Cheese Wisdom

“Pessimism is as American as apple pie -- frozen apple pie with a slice of processed cheese.”
— George Will

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