Columns

2014. 06.11 Look out! Here comes another Factoid File!

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

The Factoid File is once again overflowing with both useful and marginally worthless tidbits of knowledge. Therefore, hold on for an avalanche of trivia.

You may have learned in school that President Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to have a telephone in the White House. However, do you know the phone number assigned to him? The number was simply, and I suppose appropriately, “1.”

Since we’re in the midst of cookout season, it’s the perfect time to point out that the charcoal briquette as we know it today was invented by automaker Henry Ford as a way to recycle the mountains of scrap wood created daily as a byproduct of building the Ford Model T.

 As the briquette gained in popularity,  additional wood had to be obtained elsewhere to keep up with demand. Ford’s side business still exists today, although none of the raw material comes from Ford production anymore. You probably recognize the Kingsford brand, named for Henry Ford’s original partner in the venture.

Back in 2012, The Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders started showing a video of a burning Yule log on their main scoreboard at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. After a number of 911 calls were made reporting that the stadium was on fire, the Roughriders decided it was best for all concerned to stop showing the video.

Long before he became famous as The Professor on Gilligan’s Island, actor Russell Johnson appeared in the movie “Law and Order” as star Ronald Reagan’s brother. Insert your own punch line here.

Names of horses running in the Kentucky Derby are limited to a total of 18 characters, according to an agreement with The Jockey Club. I’m thinking “Nowhere Road” is kind of a catchy name for a potential Triple Crown winner, don’t you? I checked and it’s available, at least until I find a worthy horse.

Now for a few facts about Girl Scouts and Girl Scout cookies, thanks to Reader’s Digest. Three months of the year, Girl Scout cookies are the bestselling cookie brand in the country. The rest of the year, Oreos hold down the top spot.

Sixty percent of women in the U.S. Congress and 59 percent of women in the U.S. Senate are former Girl Scouts. World War Two shortages of sugar, butter and flour caused the Girl Scouts to forgo selling cookies in 1942. That year, they sold calendars instead.

Going out west this year? Try to fit the Market Theater Gum Wall into your itinerary. The Seattle landmark’s biggest drawing card is the used gum left behind, fresh from the mouths of visitors from all over the world. With the gum several inches thick in places, the 50-foot-long wall is considered to be one of the most germ-filled places on the planet, next to Ireland’s Blarney Stone. That seems about right to me.

California’s Golden Gate Bridge is, unfortunately, a magnet for jumpers trying to commit suicide. Over his career, California Highway Patrol officer Kevin Briggs has, through mid-2013, talked over 200 would be jumpers off the ledge of the bridge and back to safety.

I guess it’s been too long since I’ve been to Canada because I recently learned that our northern neighbors began introducing “paper” money made of a plastic polymer back in 2011. It’s said to be harder to counterfeit and will survive trips through a washing machine.

On the down side, there are complaints that the slippery surface allows them to slide unnoticed out of pockets. Merchants say that they are so springy that they sometimes jump right out of the cash register. It sounds like the bills are  plotting something. I wonder where they’re planning to meet?

April 15th might be the most noteworthy day in history. Among other events, it’s the day President Lincoln died, the day the Titanic sank, the day of the Boston Marathon bombing and the day Jackie Robinson first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black major league baseball player in the modern era. I won’t mention anything about it also being the deadline for income tax return filing.

It looks like I’ve run out of room for this installment. An old acquaintance of mine once told me that knowing a bunch of facts is of no use unless you’re willing to share them. He’s gone now, but as time goes by, I keep realizing how right he was. If you learned anything today, use that knowledge wisely.

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