6.3.2021/1033 | Thursday

thursday 13: weird facts

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I’m a writer, and as such, I come across a lot of weirdness in the course of research. And that weirdness sometimes boggles my mind. Here’s a sample…


1. Your tonsils can grow back after a tonsillectomy.

Often, not all the tissue is removed, so it’s possible for them to grow back. Terrifying for me, since my tonsillectomy when I was five was screwed up. 45+ years later, and I still have choking issues from the scar tissue.

2. A strawberry isn’t a berry. Nor is a raspberry or blackberry.

They are actually a bunch of tiny fruits in a single recepticle. They come from one flower with more than one ovary, making them aggregate fruits, not a berry.

3. But a banana is a berry. As is an eggplant, a grape, an avocado, and a pumpkin.

They have seeds and pulp that come from a single ovary in a flower.

4. Snoop Dogg’s mom gave him his nickname.

Word on the street is that she thought he looked like Snoopy, whom he loved as a kid.

5. Some jellyfish are magical. Or immortal. Same thing.

Technically, turritopsis jellyfish are biologically immortal because of the way they bud. They can be killed, and individuals can die, but since a jellyfish is a colony, the greater whole is biologically immortal.

6. There are four towns named Hell in the world.

The northern most is in Norway, the southernmost in the Cayman Islands. In between is one in the US and another in the Netherlands. There’s also a fifth Hell in California, but it’s a ghost town.

7. The current Pope used to be a club bouncer.

Pope Francis was also once a janitor before becoming a chemist.

8. McDonald’s first drive-thru was created because of the US Army.

Truth. AR 670-1 (Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia) used to prohibit soldiers entirely from wearing uniforms in public off-post. So McDonald’s created the first drive-thru in 1975 in Sierra Vista in Arizona, near Fort Huachuca. That way soldiers could pick up food without getting out of their cars in uniform off-post. We lived at Fort Huachuca for 4 years, and even though the building is newer, there is still a plaque in the drive-thru about it.

9. There was a time when spider webs were used for bandages.

They have natural antifungal and antiseptic properties, which are beneficial for wounds. They also are rich in vitamin K, which helps with clotting.

I. Don’t. Care. Hell to the no.

10. Queen Elizabeth owns all the swans in England.

At least, any unclaimed swan swimming in open water in England and Wales. It’s a medieval law, when swans were a royal delicacy. The law still stands. And the third week of July, there’s a centuries-old tradition called “Swan Upping.” That’s when swans in the Thames are counted for the queen.

11. Tea bags were a mistake.

There was a tea merchant in NYC in 1908 who gave samples of his wares to his customers, packaged in small silken bags. Many of them assumed they were to be used the same way as metal infusers, so they dropped the bag into their water and let their tea steep. That prompted him to design and produce “sachets” of gauze, then paper.

12. When Janis Joplin died, she left a party fund in her will.

This was added literally days before her accidental death in 1970. She left $2500 for her friends to have a party wake at her favorite bar.

13. The church of St. Burchardi in Halberstadt, Germany is host to the longest musical performance in history. It began in 2001 and is scheduled to end in 2640.

I kid you not. It is a performance of OrganĀ²/ASLSP by John Cage, originally written in 1985, and then reworked in 1987. The “ASLSP” is a tempo instruction… “as slow as possible.” It began on September 5, 2001, on what would have been Cage’s 89th birthday. He’d passed away a decade earlier. And COVID didn’t stop it. On September 5, 2020, the first sound change in almost seven years took place. It was only the 14th chord change since the piece began. Those who created the performance have timed it to last from 639 years. The number is significant because the first modern keyboard organ is thought to have been created in 1361, 639 years before the turn of the 21st century. Plus that’s the life expectancy of an organ.

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2 responses to “thursday 13: weird facts

  1. Those are some interesting facts. And yes, how weird that we both wrote about jellyfish immortality! Another Thursday Thirteener wrote about aging while I was writing about immortality. Stuff floating about in the atmosphere! Thanks for visiting my blog.

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