Things I learned in 2022

I liked reading Kottke’s 52 Things I Learned in 2021 so here at the beginning of 2022 I’m inspired to give it a try for myself. I expect half of the things on my list will be links to Kottke’s site but let’s see how it goes.

  1. Jockey Frank Hayes won his only horse race despite not surviving the the finish.
  2. Koalas evolved hands that have human-like fingerprints.
  3. The Salish people in the Pacific Northwest used to breed dogs for wool to make blankets.
  4. The worlds heaviest hinged door at Lawrence Livermore lab weight 97,000 pounds but can be opened and shut by one person.
  5. On my birthday in 2020 there was a lighting flash in Argentina/Uruguay that lasted 17 seconds.
  6. A tunnel opened last year in the Faroe Islands that has the first undersea traffic circle.
  7. There was a massive meteor storm in 1913 of 40 to 60 bright fireballs that traveled across the entire sky for over 3 minutes.
  8. Most people have eyes with light sensitive cells tuned to three different frequencies. Some women (only women?) have a fourth light band. The are called tetrachromats and they can distinguish millions of colors most of us don’t see.
  9. Victoria Island up in northern Canada has perhaps the largest third order island in the world.
  10. Leaded gasoline came about because General Motors couldn’t patent a safer ethanol additive to address automobile engine knock. (Also, the guy to came up with leaded gasoline, also invented CFCs, the ozone depleting chemical)
  11. There is a truly bizarre sculpture of Abe Lincoln in the US Courthouse in Los Angeles which was the winning entry from a New Deal era art program.
  12. If not for Lu Yu we might be eating tea in soup instead of drinking it.
  13. There is a section in Spain on the Mediterranean coast that is almost completely covered in greenhouses
  14. A drilling accident in 1980 changed a shallow fresh water lake in Louisiana into the deepest salt water lake in the state.
  15. Back in the '90s an estimated 90% of all the LSD in the US was produced in Wamego Kansas west of Topeka.
  16. We wouldn’t have chocolate if not for these pollinating flies.
  17. In 19th and into the 20th century it was illegal to be ugly in public in many US cities.
  18. Some mysterious circles in Algeria are a mystery no more thanks to some wonderful journalism.
  19. There is a storm off the coast of Northern Australia that appears so regularly during the rain season, the call it Hector the Convector.
  20. There exists a set of initial parameters, and a pair of temperatures, such that given two bodies of water identical in these parameters, and differing only in initial uniform temperatures, the hot one will freeze sooner.
  21. In the 12th and 13th centuries the city of Balogna was absolutely cluttered with as many as 180 towers.
  22. Bhutan has the best postage stamp game in the world. They issued stamps that could be played on a record player.
  23. The collection of gravitationaly bound galaxies known as “Stephan’s Quintet” which was featured as one of the 5 first images from the JWST on 7/12/22 was used in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life” as the “angels”.
  24. In Chekhov’s final play The Cherry Orchard a gun appears and is brandished by a character (“I still have a revolver on me”) but it is never fired. There isn’t a single pistol shot in the play.
  25. Bats are pretty good swimmers
  26. While the French were perfecting the baguette, the Brits were making bread for horses.
  27. I knew that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone but I didn’t know he also invented the first wireless phone. He just used the wrong wavelength of light.
  28. Olivia Newton John’s (who passed away this year) maternal grandfather was Nobel prize-winning physicist Max Born.
  29. We eat Heinz catsup almost exclusively today because back in the early 1900s it was the safest option. It didn’t have any benzoate preservatives to make you sick and it didn’t explode in the bottle sending shards of glass around the table like the alternatives.
  30. My birth date (in 1875) was the date of the Dublin Whiskey Fire. A million liters of flaming whiskey and other spirits flowing down the streets of the city. Only 13 people died but none from burns or smoke inhalation. They all died from drinking too much alcohol.
  31. The 1904 Olympic men’s marathon was wild. The winner admitted that he cheated, the “real winner” got fed rat poison to keep him on his feet and had to be carried across the finish line. Several participants just sort of casually signed up before the race and ran.
  32. Babies have a built in instinct to avoid plants. (the awesome video links to an actual scientific study of this phenomenon.)
  33. Penguins can generate enough rectal pressure to fling their poop up to 4 feet away.
  34. Due to a printers error in a 17th century bible, readers were Commanded that “Thou shalt commit adultery”
  35. I always thought it was funny that the Broccoli family that produces the James Bond films is named after a green vegetable, but it turns out, it’s the other way around. The vegetable is named for the family.
  36. In the UK (Gloucestershir) they have an “Olimpicks” wherein participants compete in an event called shin kicking (video).
  37. While the traditional French baguette dates back to the 18th century, the Italian Ciabatta loaf was only developed in 1982.
  38. Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement on the Orkney Islands which dates back over 4000 years ago had the first known sewage system with indoor toilets.
  39. You’d think that the Bay of Fundy (highest tides in the world) would be a great place to generate power. It’s been tried, but it turns out the tides are so strong they tear turbines apart

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Week 2

[I think this person is pulling my leg here]

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Week 8

Week 9

It’s here

Week 10

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Week 16