Wednesday, April 28, 2010


My day job revolves around laws and regulations, so I often have a chance to wonder -- Now, why did they make that a law? Sometimes, I even find out the answers. But there are a few laws that it's probably more fun not to know.

For example, in Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp. Just how many giraffes have there been roaming the streets of Atlanta that this had to be made into a law? And, is it okay to tie an okapi to a telephone pole or a street lamp?

Another law that makes me giggle -- it's illegal to whale hunt in Oklahoma. Uhm, was that necessary?

And finally, it's illegal to plow a field with an elephant in North Carolina. I understand this one comes results from a P.T. Barnum publicity stunt, but really how many times did he try that one?

So, while you're thinking about that, I'm going to find out if it's okay to raise alligators in the Houston suburbs because it's not legal in Corpus Christi.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Would you want to live in Boogertown?

I love funny street names and town names. Some stretches of highway are filled with great ones that will make you laugh for a mile or two. One of my faves is a street in Lake Jackson called "That Way." I understand there's a "This Way" too.

But street names don't affect as many people as town or city names. How many people keep a straight face upon learning that a new friend is from "Boogertown, North Carolina?" How about "Ding Dong, Texas?" Or, "Toad Suck, Arkansas?"

So, in honor of funny place names, here's today's set of randoms:

1. Los Angeles holds the title for longest official U.S. city name -- El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Rina de los Angeles de Porcluncula.

2. "Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg" is the longest place name in the United States. Yes, that's 45 letters. It's a lake in Webster, Massachusetts. The name means "Englishmen at Manchaug at the Fishing Place at the Boundary," but the name is sometimes facetiously translated as "you fish your side of the water, I fish my side of the water, nobody fishes the middle".

3. Rhode Island's official name is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

Well, that's all for today!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Marine One

My husband was in D.C. for work reasons yesterday, minding his own business while walking down the street. Suddenly, he heard thump, thump, thump. He turned to see Marine One rising over a building. It was so close that he could see the pilot's sunglasses.

What's so exciting about Marine One? Marine One is the call sign for any Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President. Specifically, it is most often the President's helicopter. So, in honor of my hubby's sighting, here's a little Marine One randomness:

1. A Marine Corps aircraft carrying the Vice President is called "Marine Two."

2. A Marine Corps aircraft carrying the President's family is called "Marine One Foxtrot."

3. For security reasons, Marine One always flies in a group of up to five identical helicopters. One carries the President. The others act as decoys. Right after taking off, they begin shifting in formation to hide the position of the President. This is sometimes referred to as the "Presidential shell game."

Semper Fidelis!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Two weeks ago, few in the world had ever heard of the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano. Now, hardly a news hour goes by without some mention of it. Who knew that a pesky volcano in Iceland could wreak such havoc?

I have a co-worker who's been trying to get back from Egypt for days now. Last I heard, he was in Jordan. Hopefully, things will be better today, and he can catch a flight home.

But here's the thing -- Eyjafjallajokull is the "little" volcano in the area. It has a bigger neighbor named Katla, and if the Katla volcano erupts, the eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than the Eyjafjallajokull volcano. (Much easier to pronounce, but much deadlier.) So, things could get worse.

According to the AP, Katla is showing no signs of activity at this time, but each of the last three times Eyjafjallajokull erupted, so did Katla. So, don't say I didn't warn you.

Today's word challenge: How many words can you make using the letters from Eyjafjallajokull? (For example, "fall" and "joke" are two.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Yesterday morning, I overslept. So, now bloggity blog for me. Kinda threw the whole day off. I got to work on time, but it was a telecommuting day, so there's not really any excuse for being late.

That made me think about the kinds of excuses people give for being late to work. According to a 2008 survey, 15% of all employees said that they were late at least once per week to their jobs, and roughly 24% said that they made up excuses about why they were late. The survey listed some of the wacky excuses given. My favorite of the bunch was "Someone stole all my daffodils." Really? I'd be lucky to notice that my daffodils were missing in the morning. Plus, I'm such a poor gardener that I'd assume they'd all just died. But I digress.

I also liked "I was indicted for securities fraud this morning," and "I didn't have any gas money because all of the pawn shops were closed." Another one was "My route to work was shut down by a Presidential motorcade," but I didn't think that one was funny. I actually drove in the tail-end of a Presidential motorcade, so I know that they don't shut down the road completely. They just close the exits while the motorcade goes by.

What's the wackiest reason you've heard that a co-worker (not, you, of course) has ever given for being late to work?

Friday, April 16, 2010

R.I.P. Keith Hogan

Every now and then, you meet someone you never forget. Someone that makes you think the world is a better place just because he or she is somewhere in it. Keith Hogan was one of those people.

His life was an inspiration to us all as he showed us how to find a way to live out dreams despite serious obstacles. He didn't let his muscular dystrophy stop him from obtaining his college degree, working, or enjoying a full life. His ever ready smile drew people to him, and you always felt special in his presence, even though he was really the one who was special.

We'll miss you, Keith. R.I.P.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Do pigs sweat?

Last week, a friend of mine said that she'd been "sweating like a pig." Which made me wonder, do pigs actually sweat?

Turns out that pigs are very poor sweaters, and some breeds of pig don't sweat at all. So, when we're all saying that we are "sweating like pigs," we really mean that we aren't sweating at all. Pigs, in fact, cool themselves by wallowing in mud. I, frankly, would rather stick with the sweating.

Horses are really great sweaters. Even cows are better sweaters than pigs. However, horses are by far the best at it. Perhaps we should change our little saying to "sweating like a horse."

So, next time I go for a run, you'll probably see me sweating like a horse.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Inventions Part II

Answer from yesterday: They were all invented by women.

1. The windshield wiper.
Mary Anderson invented the first windshield wiper, and received a patent for it in 1905.

2. The home diabetes test.
Helen Free invented the home diabetes test. She was also one of the world's leading experts on urinalysis.

3. Liquid Paper.
Bette Nesmith Graham, invented Liquid Paper, which was originally called "Mistake Out."

Now, what would have happened if the lady who invented Liquid Paper had married one of the guys who invented Spell Check? Would all of our misspelled words be invisible?

Monday, April 12, 2010


What do the following three things have in common?

1. The windshield wiper.

2. The home diabetes test.

3. Liquid paper.

Answer tomorrow.

Friday, April 9, 2010


So, it seems I'm not the only one who can't function without spell check. When the San Francisco Giants' Eugenio Velez took the field on Wednesday night against our beloved Houston Astros, his jersey read "San Francicso." Even I can see that's wrong.

Apparently, last year, two Washington National players hit the field with "Natinal" scrawled across their jerseys. Looks like you can't run spell check on baseball jerseys.

I'm not making fun. I'm merely recognizing a kindred spirit or two out there. I misspelled my own first name until sometime in the second grade. (I plead the fifth on whether I have misspelled it in the past year.)

All I can say is that those six linguists from Georgetown University who invented the first spell-check system for IBM are some one of my heroes. (Like how I worked something random into a sentence?)

On a different note . . . You've probably heard or seen the Spellchecker Poem. If not, here's a link:

Right on.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Drip Dry

Have I mentioned that I hate ironing? (Wait, we're trying hard to get our girls to stop using the word 'hate.) Have I mentioned that I have a feeling of intense hostility toward ironing? (See, isn't that much better?)

But I do it almost every Monday morning during the school year -- generally between 6:15 and 6:30 a.m. because that's the day my girls have to wear their dress uniforms to school. Given the uniform, it seems reasonable to require ironing -- no matter how intense my hostility toward the effort is.

What doesn't make sense is the care label on my husband's swim trunks that includes "iron when necessary." When is it EVER necessary to iron swim trunks?

That said, did you know that there's a whole little system of symbols for care labels?

This one means drip dry:

This one means Chlorine bleach may be used:

This one means use hot iron (220C/392F) for cotton, linen, viscose:

You know I'll be on the lookout for that last one . . .

Monday, April 5, 2010

To the Zoo

My daughters and I are going to the zoo today. I love going to the zoo. (Shhhh. Don't tell them that -- they think I'm being totally selfless and must be forced to go.)

We have the world's cutest animal at our zoo (that's what the signs say, and I believe them) -- a red panda. Here's a link to a photo of one:

Judge for yourself. Only your own child could be cuter.

They are an endangered species, with only about 2500 adults in the world. Next weekend is Red Panda Awareness Weekend at our zoo, so just to get you ready for that. . .

Pandomly speaking:

1. Red pandas grow to about the size of a house cat.

2. Red pandas have been thought to be a relative of both the giant panda and the raccoon, but are now thought to have their own family -- the Ailuridae.

3. A male red panda is called a "boar" or a "he-bear."

4. A female red panda is called a "sow" or a "she-bear."

5. A group of red pandas (which is uncommon) is called a "sleuth" or a "sloth."

Don't forget to check out the link. They are so darn cute!!!!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Extreme Clean

When did toothpaste stop being just toothpaste?

It's almost bewildering to pick out a tube of toothpaste today. Even my favorite brand carries so many options that I feel as if making a choice means that I'm failing in some other area.

For example, I can get a tube with baking soda, peroxide, and tartar protection in a "fresh mint." But that means I have to forgo the breath freshening Scope add-on. So, what does that say about me? Clearly, I care more about my own hygiene than whether you have to be subject to my bad breath.

I recently ran out of my favorite toothpaste and had to scramble around to find a travel tube. In desperation, I opened a travel tube of something other than my favorite and discovered that it isn't toothpaste, it's a "whitening mint experience." So, now I'm putting an "experience" on my teeth multiple times per day. That's just weird.

But toothpaste or "whitening mint experiences" are not really modern inventions -- despite the ability to buy all sorts of flavors and add-ons. The ancient Egyptians are believed to have made a "dental cream" by mixing powdered ashes of oxen hooves with myrrh, burned egg shells, pumice, and water.

The earliest record of an actual "toothpaste" (I don't know about the "whitening mint experience")was in 1789. A recipe of the day called for using burnt bread. (Probably someone with my track record for cooking made this one up.)

Another toothpaste recipe at the time called for:

1 1/2 oz. dragons blood (Now we know why we can't find them.)
1 1/2 oz. cinnamon
1 oz. burnt alum

Well, brush on, everyone. I'm going to return to my "whitening mint experience."