Back in my late teens I found my “quiet place” in the reference section of Kendall Young Library in Webster City. When I had some free time between work and studies at the local community college I visited the library, found a reference book and relaxed.
In those days of information on paper, I loved almanacs and encyclopedias. I know, that’s a little weird.
The public library can never be replaced but the Internet is a giant reference section chocked full of facts for inquisitive minds. Among those facts are weird facts and, for me, it is serendipitous to find a weird fact while looking for something else.
This weird fact, for example, must have messed up many bigots in its day: for numerous generations in Kentucky there was a family of people with blue skin. It is believed the Fulgates of Troublesome Creek gained their blue skin through a combination of inbreeding and a rare genetic blood disorder known as methemoglobinemia.
A business acquaintance refused to go to the top of the John Hancock Tower with me because it sways with the wind. The design of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago allows five to eight inches of sway in a 60mph wind. Another weird fact: the Eifel Tower in Paris is built to sway with the sun. The top of the Eiffel Tower leans as much as seven inches away from the sun because the metal facing the sun heats up and expands.
Meanwhile in the church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany, the longest musical performance in history is currently taking place. The performance of John Cage’s “Organ²/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible)” started in 2001 and is set to finish in 2640. The last time the note changed was October 2013. The next change isn’t due until 2020. That’s weird.
Here’s another weird fact: you can’t hum while holding your nose closed. You can let go of your nose now.
There are a lot of commercials on TV these days pitching teeth whitening products. I learned from the Internet that the Romans used to clean and whiten their teeth with urine. Though it is reported to have worked I’m sticking with the Crest products.
Not all weird facts gleaned from the Internet are valuable to human discourse. Here’s one, however, you can share at your physical. The medical name for a butt crack is “intergluteal cleft.” Your physician will be impressed with your anatomical genius.
I read on the Internet that some banks have therapists known as “wealth psychologists” who help ultra-rich clients who are unable to mentally cope with their immense wealth. I am not aware if my bank employs a wealth psychologist but (so far) I have not required such.
I recently installed a “call blocker” app on my cellphone because, according to the Internet, an estimated four million “junk” telephone calls, phone solicitations by persons or robo calls are made daily in the United States!
Along those lines, I read on the Internet that a man from Britain changed his name to Tim Pppppppppprice to make it harder for telemarketers to pronounce.
I’ve been a Crayola fan for more than 60 years and learned from the Internet that Crayola means “oily chalk.” The name combines “craie” (French for “chalk”) and “ola” (short for “oleaginous” or “oily.”) Colorful terms, aren’t they?
I also learned from the Internet that women have a better sense of smell than men. I have long believed women smell better than men but I didn’t know they can smell better than men. Wait a minute…
Another weird fact I found: our hearing decreases when we overeat. I suppose the quieting of all the family noises helps with after-dinner naps on Thanksgiving.
At this very moment, more than 60,000 people are flying over the United States in an airplane. That’s more than the entire population of the City of Dubuque. Overhead. Right now.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these weird bits of information I have collected. Go ahead and say it: you’re a little weird, Arvid.