Thursday, February 5, 2015

Strange Facts

When I first moved into my current abode in the Land of Ark, many moons ago, I had my parents over for a barbecue. During the evening, a light bulb in the kitchen burned out. I stood on a wobbly stool that my dad was clutching to keep steady. I unscrewed the dead light bulb, passed it down to my mother who then handed me another light bulb which I then secured into place.

If you are ever asked how many Burquests it takes to screw in a light bulb, the answer is three.

This semi-amusing incident made me think about some of the strange facts swirling around in my overly active cranium.

Recently, I learned Polar Bears were left-handed. Naturally, I added this important bit of knowledge to the lower-rear quadrant of my brain where I have a massive data bank full of equally useless information.

I guess I just can't help it. I come across some bizarre fact about aardvarks or kumquats and into the data base it goes. It helps to start with a nearly empty brain. I suspect I have plenty of room for more data.

So far, I have never encountered a Polar Bear, unless you count a rather large, hairy, pale fellow I met one afternoon from Moko named Bubba. It’s my understanding Polar Bears rarely wander as far south as Arkansas.  In fact, they rarely wander south of the Arctic Circle. But you never know when a piece of information might come in handy.  If I ever get into a fistfight with a Polar Bear, I’ll lead with my right.  Then I will quickly board a jet plane and fly south.

Strange facts can often be fascinating but rarely are very helpful. Other strange facts include the following:

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An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its brain.

A cockroach can live for nine days without its head.

A woodchuck breathes only 10 times per minute while in hibernation -- but when active breathes 2,100 times per minute.

A small animal has a faster metabolism than a large animal to replace expired energy -- a hummingbird or a shrew must be constantly eating or it will die of starvation in a few hours, whereas a large animal can go without food for long periods of time -- a healthy human can go without food for longer than a month, but must drink at least 2 quarts of water per day.

A grizzly bear can run faster than a horse.

The world's fastest mammal, the cheetah, can run at speeds up to 65 miles per hour -- from a standing start, it can reach 45 miles per hour in 2 seconds -- but it can only maintain top speed for about 300 yards before overcome by exhaustion.

The Australian koala is solely adapted to the eucalyptus tree -- it doesn't need anything else, including water.

The Egyptians trained baboons to wait on tables.

A chuckwalla lizard escapes danger by crawling into cracks in a rock and inflating its body with air until it's wedged tightly in the crack and cannot be pulled out.

A crocodile has a high concentration of hydrochloric acid in its digestive juices -- it's capable of dissolving iron spearheads or steel hooks it has swallowed.

Crocodile eggs are ready to hatch after about 3 months -- the baby crocodile is unable to dig its way out of the sand above -- while still in the shell, they make a peeping sound compelling the mother guarding the eggs to dig them free.

Cats are among the weirdest animals on Planet Earth and elsewhere -- when a cat moves, the front leg on one side and the rear leg on the other side move together -- the only other animals that move this way are giraffes and camels.

Bombay Duck is made from dried fish.

Chinese gooseberries come from New Zealand.

Dark chocolate is good for you -- it contains antioxidants and fiber -- plus many minerals such as magnesium, manganese, and iron.

Licking a stamp uses 1/10 of a calorie.

A Dutch physician and chemist named Hermann Boerhaave died in 1783 -- he left behind a sealed book titled THE ONLIEST AND DEEPEST SECRETS OF THE MEDICAL ART -- the sealed book was eventually sold at auction for $20,000 in gold -- when the new owner opened the book, he discovered that 99 out of the 100 pages were blank -- on the title page was a handwritten note by the author that read: "Keep your head cool, your feet warm, and you'll make the best doctor poor."

The Hundred Years’ War lasted 116 years.

Panama hats are made in Ecuador.

There are about 11 psychiatrists per 100,000 of the population of the United States -- but in Washington D.C., there are 56 psychiatrists per 100,000 -- which could explain some of the idiotic notions and decisions of those who populate our nation' capitol.

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If you still have room, store some of these rare facts in your lower-rear quadrant. You never know when you may need them.

Quote for the Day -- “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” Arthur Conan Doyle

Bret Burquest is the author of 10 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a couple of dogs and where changing light bulbs is a family affair.

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