OFF THE CUFF

Just for fun, here are a few randomly organized tidbits of information to add to your cache of relatively useless knowledge that might not be readily available through conventional media outlets.

•People are twice as likely to be killed by a vending machine than a shark.

•Apollo 11 astronauts had to go through customs after returning from the Moon.

•More people have been to the Moon than the deepest part of Earth’s oceans, the Mariana Trench.

•If you want to walk from Finland to North Korea, you only have to cross one country: Russia.

•Nintendo was founded in 1889. It started as a card game company.

•President William McKinley was shot right after giving away his good-luck charm.

McKinley always wore a red carnation for good luck but sometimes gave it out as a memento. When greeting a crowd in 1901, he handed it to a 12-year-old girl and said, “I must give this flower to another little flower.” Minutes later, he was fatally shot by a man in the crowd.

•There are more atoms in a glass of water than glasses of water in all the oceans on Earth.

•Bullfrogs don’t sleep.

•Scientists say that one teaspoon of a neutron star weighs about 900 times as much as the Great Pyramid of Giza.

•It’s illegal to kill a Bigfoot in Texas.

•There are more trees on Earth than there are stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.

NASA estimates there are between 100 billion and 400 billion stars in the galaxy, but there are more than 3 trillion trees on Earth.

•A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.

Venus takes about 243 Earth days to rotate just once, but only 225 Earth days to revolve around the Sun. 

•Alaska is simultaneously the most northern, western and eastern state in the U.S.

That’s because a portion of the Aleutian Islands is beyond the 180th longitudinal meridian, and therefore in the eastern hemisphere.

•Mankind put a man on the Moon before putting wheels on suitcases.

•All three Grammys Elvis Presley won were for gospel songs.

•Maine is the closest U.S. state to Africa.

•Tigers don’t just have striped fur, but striped skin, too. The stripes are like fingerprints and no two tigers have the same pattern.

•Toilet seats are typically cleaner than the average cell phone.

•Adolph Hitler was nominated for the

Nobel Peace Prize in 1939.

•During World War II, a cat nicknamed “Unsinkable Sam” survived the sinking of three different ships.

•“Go,” is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.

•A strawberry isn’t a berry, but a banana is. Avocados and watermelons are berries, too, but raspberries and blackberries aren’t.

•In the Philippines, McDonald’s serves spaghetti. The pasta comes with a beef tomato sauce and a piece of “McDo” fried chicken.

•The Eiffel Tower was originally intended for Barcelona, but the Spanish city thought the design was too ugly. So Gustave Eiffel pitched it to Paris instead, as a temporary landmark during its International Exposition in 1889. 

•Rain has never fallen in Calama, a town in the Atacama Desert of Chile.

•Most lipstick contains fish scales.

•San Francisco’s cable cars are the only National Monuments that can move.

•“Bluetooth” technology was named after a 10th century king, King Harald Bluetooth. He united Denmark and Norway, like wireless technology united computers and cell phones.

•Dentist William Morrison and confectioner John C. Wharton invented machine-spun cotton candy in 1897. It was first introduced at the 1904 World’s Fair as “Fairy Floss.” 

•A blue whale’s heart weighs almost a ton and beats about once every 10 seconds.

•It’s impossible to hum while holding your nose or to lick your own elbow.

Stay tuned. There’s no end to this material.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.

Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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