BY JAMES K. WHITE | DECEMBER 1, 2010
Punch and Judy and the petrified man
Neutrinos are really tiny subatomic particles. Scientists believe they are so small that literally trillions of the minuscule units rapidly pass through the earth every second without making contact with any earth atoms.
Military personnel have been creative in naming various foods prepared by service cooks. For instance, “meatloaf” is commonly referred to as “ptomaine steak.”
In 1869, a New England cigar maker named George Hull hired a sculptor to chisel the figure of a giant man from a block of concrete. The ten foot work was buried and “discovered” some months later a short distance from the town of Cardiff, New York. The hoax was on.
Thousands paid fifty cents each for a brief look at the “petrified man.” P. T. Barnum made a substantial offer for the attraction and was rejected. Matters might have continued happily were it not that Hull had never fully paid the involved sculptor who turned into a big old tattletale and ruined everything.
John Glenn was the first human to eat a meal (1962) while in “space.” He consumed applesauce from a tube. Recent information indicates each space-shuttle launch costs between $400 million and $500 million. I surmise the $100 million variation depends largely on the volumes of applesauce, etc. consumed during the missions.
Comedy changes with time. Punch and Judy puppet acts in England go back at least to 1662 when a viewing of a show was documented by diarist Samuel Pepys. That same year an observer commented that King Charles II thoroughly enjoyed a Punch and Judy command performance. Humor plots in presentations nearly always included Punch violently killing Judy. Ha-Ha?
On June 9, 1972 a team from the British Army arrived at Cape Horn (South America) riding in two well-worn Range Rovers. The crew had traveled the entire length of the Americas, starting from the north coast of Alaska some 188 days previous. The most difficult stretch of the journey had been from Panama through Columbia (a region known as “El Tapon”).
Outlaw gangs, swamps, rivers, mosquitoes, poisonous snakes and herds (some with more than 300 animals) of vicious feral hogs made traversing El Tapon exceptionally grueling.
“Lexington” was the name of George Washington’s “saddle horse.” However, “Blueskin” was his horse at Valley Forge, as was “Roger Leo.” “Nelson” was his fave in battle and the general once indicated his most prized animal was an Arabian named “Magnolia.”
Washington traded Magnolia for 5,000 acres of land, so someone else must have thought highly of the chestnut mare.
Use caution when touring El Tapon (translates as “The Stopper”) and enjoy a great week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The smart loan
A cowboy from Hays, Kansas walked into a bank in New York City and asked for the loan officer. He told the loan officer he was going to Paris for an international rodeo for two weeks and needed to borrow $5,000. He admitted he was not a depositor of the bank. The bank officer told him the bank would need some form of security for the loan, so the cowboy handed over the keys to a new Ferrari. The car was parked on the street in front of the bank. The cowboy produced the title and everything checked out. The loan officer agreed to hold the car as collateral for the loan and apologized for having to charge 12 percent interest.
Later, the bank's president and its officers all enjoyed a good laugh at the cowboy from Kansas for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral for a $5,000 loan.
An employee of the bank then drove the Ferrari into the bank's private underground garage and parked it.
Two weeks later, the cowboy returned, repaid the $5,000 and the interest of $23.07. The loan officer said, "Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out on Dun & Bradstreet and found you are a highly sophisticated investor and multimillionaire with real estate and financial interests all over the world.
Your investments include a large number of wind turbines around Hays, Kansas. What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"
The good 'ole Kansas cowboy replied, "Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $23.07 and expect it to be there when I return?"
Your Horoscope by Madame Bournard
ARIES (MAR. 21 - APRIL 19)
The Moon has kicked your communication sector into high gear. Plans, invitations and socialization swirls around you. Listen to a wise decision made by your partner!
TAURUS (APR. 20 – MAY 20)
Your house of values began its rise with the Full Moon and will continue. Family discussions are going to show some progress. You may receive unexpected news from a friend.
GEMINI (MAY 21 –JUNE 20)
Opportunities for advancement provide a genuine reason for optimism this week. It’s a good time to catch up on socializing. To get out there, join a local group with interests that match yours!
CANCER (JUN 21 – JULY 22)
You have a big heart and honest feelings for a friend who has done you wrong. You end up in the middle of other people’s problems when they don’t take responsibility for themselves.
LEO (JULY 23- SEPT. 22)
Social activities are the highlight of the week. Think everything over before acting or spending money. You may hear some surprising news this week.
VIRGO (AUG. 23 –AUG 22)
You should think about your next career move as you look ahead to the New Year. Don’t wait too long to act. Now is not the time to argue; keep peace, especially with relatives.
LIBRA (SEPT.23 – OCT 22)
You love of current affairs and politics on the national scene may translate into success in the future. Your communication sector brightens for the coming weeks. Good times are ahead.
SCORPIO (OCT. 23- NOV. 21)
Invest time in enhancing the value of your resume. Keep it current expanding; you never know what may happen in the future. Avoid mixing business with personal matters.
SAGITTARIUS (NOV. 22- DEC. 21)
This time of year is perfect for a renewed interest in home affairs so put your best foot forward. Try not to use your authority unwisely at work. Strive for patience.
CAPRICORN (DEC. 22- JAN 19)
Health matters are in the forefront. You may be in contact with people at a hospital or perhaps senior citizens. Try to be positive and surround yourself with positive people.
AQUARIUS (JAN. 20- FEB. 18)
You attain your greatest success by letting people know your objectives. Avoid acting in a way that arouses resentment toward you.
PISCES (FEB. 19- MAR. 20)
If possible, steer clear of other peoples’ problems; you have enough of your own to contend with day to day. The Moon exerts a positive influence on your attitude.