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James k whiteThe famed artist Rembrandt

The famed artist Rembrandt is one of the “Old Masters,” but it is one of his ‘lesser’ works, Jacob de Gheyn III, that holds a unique position in the world of fine art. This particular painting (completed in 1632) has been stolen four times since 1965. Each time the composition has been recovered. JDG3 is currently being displayed at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, unless….

Experts estimate that approximately 95 percent of the vehicles not powered by animals use petroleum products for fuel. However, not all is equal in the oil industry. In the Middle East, one barrel of oil is expended to obtain 30 barrels of oil. That same barrel of oil would produce less than two barrels in return if ethanol from corn were the product. EROEI (Energy Returned On Energy Invested) is an acronym that may become common.

Some meat processors who make large quantities of sausages use very high efficiency meat grinders. In fact, some meat grinders operate at such high speeds that they necessitate being dipped in liquid nitrogen. Otherwise, the devices could overheat and melt the “delicious” fats, thusly ruining the flavoring processes.

The NASA project Apollo included six flights that successfully landed men on the moon. Twenty flights were planned, but only seventeen were attempted. Be watching for books and movies about conspiracies concerning the three flights that were never launched.

It will likely surprise very few to learn that the world’s highest glacier (Khumbu) is located on Mt. Everest.

Scientists claim that the bird fastest on measured level flight is the grey-headed albatross, which has been observed to average just over 78 mph for an eight hour period. I wonder how the observer kept up with the g-h-albatross.

Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville (France) is worthy of mention because he developed (and patented) a sound-recording device in 1857, some twenty years before Thomas Edison patented his similar invention. A big difference was that Scott’s device used a vibrating membrane and a pen on paper to record visual representations of sounds. He hoped to train people to read spoken words from his recorded etched-ink tracks. The track-reading concept did not work out, but some believe Edison was aware of Scott’s work and used it as inspiration.

Unless you have recently written a check for a very large amount, I am going to assume that the check for 2,474,655,000 British pounds ($3,971,821,275) by Glaxco plc to Wellcome Trust in 1995 represents the largest amount ever transferred by bank draft. Well, I suggest that you do not purchase any works by Rembrandt without first checking with the Dulwich folks – and have great week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at

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What a pity Kulula doesn't fly internationally - we should support them if only for their humor.

Kulula is an Airline with their head office situated in Johannesburg. Kulula airline attendants make an effort to make the in-flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining.

Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

On a Kulula flight, (there is no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

On another flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have."

"There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane."

"Thank you for flying Kulula. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Durban Airport, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. Whoa!"

After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in the Karoo, a flight attendant, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

From a Kulula employee: "Welcome aboard Kulula 271 to Port Elizabeth. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

"In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Kulula Airlines."

"Your seats cushions can be used for flotation; and in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

"As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Kulula Airlines is pleased to announce that we have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

On Kulula 255 just after a very hard landing in Cape Town, the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

During the final approach on a Kulula flight into Cape Town, on a particularly windy and bumpy day, the Captain really had to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to The Mother City. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline". He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, “Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?"

"Why, no Ma'am," said the pilot. "What is it?"

The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

After a real crusher of a landing in Johannesburg, the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we will open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of Kulula Airways."

Heard on a Kulula flight: "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing. If you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

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