Man first ascended in a hot air balloon

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It was 1919 when the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company first marketed baseball gloves with webbing. Until then, even the big leaguers generally used leather hand covers with a palm pad and five short slender sleeves for the fingers and thumb – pretty much a padded version of farmer/rancher work gloves.

Fredericksburg, Virginia was the site of considerable conflict during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Control of that battle-torn town changed at least seven times before the war ended. The Fredericksburg Episcopal Church served as a hospital for both sides during the gory encounters. The church building still bears damage inflicted by cannon balls fired during combat.

Charles Curtis was the only Native American to serve as vice president of the United States (1929-1933). He was a mixture of Kaw, Osage and Potawatomi ancestry.

It was way back in 1783 when man first ascended in a hot air balloon. The Montgolfier brothers, Jacques and Joseph, co-invented the apparatus; but it was Jacques who made the first flight. The common people of Paris were amazed as was King Louis XVI, who elevated the Montgolfier family to hereditary nobility status. This seemed like a grand honor until the French Revolution erupted in 1789 when being a French noble suddenly became an extraordinarily dangerous pastime.

President Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home was built from a “complete house kit” sold by the Sears Catalog Co.

The most accurate clock ever made (NIST-F2) was crafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and is said to be exact within one second over the next 300 million years. The device “went online” on April 3, 2014. This new clock is three times as accurate as the old hit-and-miss NIST-F1 that it replaced.

Many industrial robots are dangerous for humans to operate or even be within “functional distance.” Scientists from Whitesides Research Group (Harvard University) have constructed some promising robotic prototypes that are fashioned largely from soft pliable plastics. The softer materials may not be used in all industry applications but using wherever possible, e.g. auto/truck assemblies, should make work areas significantly safer.

The next time that you have a drink of water, appreciate that vital privilege. A recent United Nations study indicates that 748 million people do not have daily access to safe drinking water. Well, try to keep track of time with your whatever “make-do” clock – and somehow have a pleasant week.

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