BY JAMES K. WHITE | FEBRUARY 13, 2013
While away the hours popping Bubble Wrap
Research indicates the vocabulary of the average American adult consists of approximately 5,500 words. An unofficial study has revealed a few teenagers possess speaking vocabularies that contain the terms “like,” “you know,” “whatever” and roughly 20 additional words.
Bubble Wrap was invented by two engineers named Fielding and Chavannes in 1957. Initially, the material was made by sealing plastic shower curtains together. The product was offered as wallpaper, but few consumers seemed interested. Subsequently, the “Air Cap” product was advertised as greenhouse insulation and was again a marketing flop. In 1960, the enterprising Fielding and Chavannes convinced IBM to try the material as protective packing for shipping computers. IBM was impressed. Word of the marvelous product spread quickly and soon the inventive engineers were multi-millionaires. I recall my college years when some of us “date-challenged” guys would “occasionally” meet on Saturday nights to while away the hours popping Bubble Wrap, watching TV and consuming munchies.
Frano Selak of Croatia has led an interesting life. I offer in evidence: 1962 – Frano was on a winter train that jumped the tracks and fell into an icy river where 17people died. Frano survived. 1963 – Frano was traveling in a plane when the door next to him blew off. Frano fell out of the aircraft. The plane crashed. 19 people were killed. Frano landed in a haystack and survived. 1966 – Frano was a passenger on a bus that plunged off a cliff. 4 were killed. Frano survived. 1970 – Frano was riding alone in a car when the engine burst into flames. He skidded to a stop and rolled out of the vehicle seconds before the nearly-full gas tank exploded. 1973 – Frano was driving another car that burst into flames. Most of his remaining hair was burned off.
1995 – Pedestrian Frano was hit by a bus. Frano survived. 1996 – He was driving on a mountain road when a truck bumped his car through a guardrail. The poor man was knocked from his auto and landed in a treetop. His car plunged 300 feet below and exploded. Frano survived. Mr. Selak was offered a lucrative contract to star in Doritos commercials to be filmed in Australia. At first he accepted, then declined as he contemplated the long plane ride to Sydney. Update: Frano is alive at age 81 in Croatia, in his 5th marriage, has won the Croatian Lottery (about $1,000,000) and gave away most of the money. Have a great week.
James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.