Sunday, December 11, 2016

Arcane Facts Exposed

Someone recently emailed me a list of facts with the title: “So You Think You Know Everything.” My first reaction was: “I used to think I knew a lot. Maybe not everything, but a lot. The older I get, the more I feel like I’m barely getting by.” So of course, I had to read the entire list of perhaps 40 factoids. Some of them were an absolute yawn, but many of them were quite interesting. Especially the ones about animals.

For instance, a cat has 32 muscles in each ear. Also, cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs have about 10. I have no idea what to do with this information, but since I’m sure most of you reading this have either a cat or a dog, I thought I’d share.

As I read some of the more unusual data, I found myself making comparisons to my husband. The fact that a goldfish has a memory span of three seconds evoked this thought: “Cross one with my husband, and you’ll get a memory span of about two seconds.” And after reading that a snail can sleep for three years: “Cross one with my husband and you get something that can sleep for four years.” Oh, stop feeling so sorry for him. He’s used to this.

Getting more generic about our spouses, did you know that in the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated—including husbands? And while we’re on the subject of conjugal partners, the fact that there are more chickens than people in the world made me wonder: “What about rabbits?” Everyone knows what happens when you leave a male and a female rabbit alone in a cage for five minutes. Remember the old joke, boy rabbit to girl rabbit: “It won’t hurt, did it?”

I’ve always been fascinated with language, and a lot of these arcane facts are on that topic. I never knew that a “jiffy” is an actual unit of time; it’s 1/100th of a second. I wonder why we never hear sportscasters at the Olympics telling us that the person who came in second missed gold by just two jiffies.

There are only four words in the English language that end in “dous.” Those are: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous and hazardous. So why is it that it seemed like every fourth word Donald Trump spoke at any of his rallies ended in “dous”?

Here’s something I always wondered about: Using only one hand, what’s the longest word you can type with each of them? With the left it’s “stewardesses” and with the right it’s “lollipop.” This fact is obviously based on an old-fashioned typewriter keyboard, not texting. I’m still waiting to find out what the longest word is that you can text with your nose.

Not surprisingly, there were many interesting tidbits in the science category. Women blink nearly twice as much as men. And as any photographer can tell you, Elaine blinks three times as much as the average woman. People actually called me “Blinky.” I’m a real challenge in group photos.

This one grossed me out. Your stomach has to produce a new layer of mucous every two weeks or else it will digest itself. Eeww! Thank heaven for post nasal drip.

For trivia buffs, if the population of China walked past you single file, the line would never end, because of the rate of reproduction there. To which I am compelled to add: it’s the same for those horny rabbits.

Lastly in the science area, something I was grateful to learn. It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open. At least now I can stop trying to do that while I’m driving. Seriously.

There were only a handful of interesting facts having to do with math. This one caught my attention. There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. I leave you with this added caveat: until the penny is retired (which is being seriously considered). Then what? You might want to figure that out while you’re waiting at red lights, where Americans spend an average of six months. I assume that’s in a lifetime. Or maybe in a Manhattan decade. Either way, happy counting!

No comments: