Peruse this little list of the mundane and the unusual and see how many of these revelations you already knew:
• Did you know that Niagara Falls was formed 10,000 years ago? (There were only two motels there at the time.) Since then, the falls have eaten away 8.6 kilometres of upstream riverbed. If this erosion continues at the same rate, the falls will eventually disappear into Lake Erie in about 22,000 years. Hurry and visit the falls before it’s too late!
• Do you know who earned the first gold record and when? It was Glenn Miller and his big band way back in 1942. The first gold record went to their hit, Chattanooga Choo Choo, which sold 1.2-million copies in 1942.
• Did you know that a hippopotamus can swim before it can walk? This makes sense since hippos are born underwater and have to swim to the surface to take their first breaths.
• Do you know when the first “no parking” signs were put up? Well, they’ve been annoying drivers for a very long time. The first signs are thought to have been clay tablets put up along the roadside in ancient Nineveh.
“Is that near Saskatoon?” No, not exactly. If my History 101 memory is still intact — and that’s doubtful — Nineveh relates to Mesopotamia, Tigris-Euphrates Valley, Assyrians and all that stuff we had to learn in school about life back around 700 BC. But, I digress.
These first “no parking” signs are believed to have been erected along procession routes leading to important temples by Sennacherib, the king of Assyria (705-681 BC). And, by the way, the penalty for illegal parking has eased considerably since those bygone days. The illegally-parked chariot owner of 700 BC was executed.
• Beethoven had a habit of immersing himself in cold water to stay awake. It is thought that this practice may have contributed to his later deafness. Can you say, “Peculiar?”
• Peter Paul Ruebens, the Dutch painter, turned out about 3,000 paintings, but not all were painted by him alone. Other artists painted for him, then Rubens added the finishing touches and signed the picture. Tricky.
• The ancient Greeks worshipped over 30,000 gods.
• Ten times more trees are killed by insects and diseases than forest fires.
• Two of the longest song titles ever written were:
— Hoagy Carmichael’s 1943 offering called: I’m a Cranky Old Yank in a Clanky Old Tank on the Streets of Yokohama with my Honolulu Mama Doin’ those Beat-O, Beat-O, Flat-On-My-Seat-O, Hirohito Blues.
— A 1961 song by Springer and Jones called: Green with Envy, Purple with Passion, White with Anger, Scarlet with Fever, What Were You Doing in Her Arms Last Night Blues.
Can you imagine trying to get either of those titles on a CD label?
• When certain African natives need sutures to close wounds, they simply dig up a few “driver ants” and use the insects huge jaws to clamp together the edges of the open wounds.
• The longest street in the world that runs through the same city is Figueroa Street in Los Angeles. It runs north and south through Tinsel Town for a distance of 50 kilometres.
• How times change. Did you know that back in pre-Revolutionary America, tobacco was acceptable legal tender in several southern colonies? In fact, Virginia even passed a law stating that taxes should be paid in tobacco.