The Charlotte, NC, water company sent out a letter in March, 2008, thanking customers for conserving water and increasing rates due to the decreased demand for water. And the same month, YouTube hit the same amount of bandwidth as the entire internet had used in the year 2000.
20 years ago the Australian emu was promoted as the new lean meat. Easy to raise, little fat, and failing ranchers paid as much as $20,000 per breeding pair. By 1998 there were over 100 emu ranches in North Dakota alone. Now you can't give them away. There are only 3 emu ranches left and they're less popular than camels in Australia (another failed enterprise)
An urban legend says that dogs age 7 years every 12 months, which would make a 14-year-old dog 98 in dog years. But dogs actually age 15 years their 1st year, 10 their 2nd, 7 their 3rd, and only 3 each year after. So 14 would be only 65 in dog years.
Polar bears live only in or near the Arctic. The word Antarctic is Greek for "opposite of bear," Believe It or Not!
Lynn Stechik of Philadelphia, PA, says her cat Abbey is fascinated by bubbles in the clear tubes of her dialysis machine and chases them
Abraham Lincoln was once challenged to a duel but chose broadswords as his weapon knowing that his smaller challenger would not be able to wield one and negotiate a more peaceful solution. They remained friends for life after that.
Venetian public gondola boats have been painted black ever since a decree in 1562 banned all other colors. Great Britain abolished the death penalty in 1965 on land, though executions for piracy on the seas was not abolished until 1998
In the 1800s, the Saint Nicholas Nat. Bank of New York issued three-dollar bills featuring the image of Santa Clause. Thomas Edison invented the first string of electric Christmas tree lights just 3 year after perfecting the light bulb, to replace the dangerous practice of placing lit candles in the trees. If you've never seen Santa visit, it's because he moves so fast. To visit all 42,466,666 homes in North America and Europe in one night comes to 983 homes per second! In Australia, Santa's sled is pulled by eight kangaroos--it's too warm for reindeer. New Year's Day was celebrated on March 25th until 1752. After that, if you were still celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas on April 1st, you were an April Fool.
Over a century ago twelve sycamore trees were planted by the Grace Episcopal Church of Plymouth, NC. Each was named for one of Christ's apostles--the one named Judas was hit and killed by lightning. If a plane coated with tungsten landed on volcanic lava, it wouldn't melt. Tungsten's melting temperature is 6192 F, three times as hot as molten lava
The single distance run most often in American sports is 90 feet, the distance between 2 bases in baseball.
In 1974, a "super outbreak" unleashed 148 tornadoes across 13 states. In 1999, there were only 75 tornadoes in the US, but they caused over a billion dollars damage. In 1755, Ben Franklin chased one on horseback and described "trunks and bodies of large trees enveloped in the passing whirl."
In New Delhi, India, cows are considered sacred by Hindus, but finally the government had to hire "cow catchers" to round up the cows causing traffic jams and move them out to the suburbs. Seven years later (2009) the chief veterinarian reported that 100,000 cows had been caught and moved out, with about 20,000 to go. Being crushed by an elephant was once used as a form of execution in India
Most meteors that hit the Earth's atmosphere burn up, but some make it to the ground. The average size of a meteorite found on Earth is the size of a pea. A meteor was once noted on the Eclipse's log as having hit the sailing ship in mid-Pacific, destroying its masts and killing 3, depicted in Ripley's column on 1/12/41. Thomas Jefferson refused to believe that "rocks fall from the sky." A dust storm of silica oxide in Australia blocked red & yellow light, making the full Moon appear to be blue. During WW2, Japan built 400 foot long submarines that could carry three folded-up bomber planes. In 1944, William Patrick Hitler (1911-1987) joined the U.S. Navy to help defeat his uncle, Adolf Hitler. The Tonga Islands involvement in WW2 was to contribute a single Spitfire fighter plane bearing the name of their Queen Salote, for which they are so proud the natives still use blankets bearing a crude image of the named plane. John Mattocks was elected Governor of Vermont in 1843 on the campaign promise to have Thanksgiving twice a year
Mark Noel of Hickory Corners (MICH) carved a 480' long 1,993-link wooden chain from a single piece of wood, though you won't find wooden chains listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Because nothing as effective as banned DDT has ever been invented, an average of two children a minute die of malaria somewhere in the world; the U.N. says that the common fly kills more humans each year than any other creature due to the diseases it carries from person to person.
Captain Thomas West Peyton served in the War of 1812. His son served in The Mexican War, his grandson served in the Civil War, and Captain Thomas West Peyton IV served in WW1. The Mosque of Sangar el Gawly in Cairo was built in 1304 yet not a single window pane has ever had to be replaced: locals believe that if a single glass in it is cracked or broken it will mean doom for Egypt. Andrew Hall (1722-1808), his father and grandfather served as parish gravediggers for 160 continuous years. Burning "Old Man Trouble" is a New Year's tradition by some in America, but in ancient times the giant wicker man was built by Druids on certain holidays and filled with criminals before it was set on fire. The Cecropia Trees of South America have hollow stems containing nests of ants which defend it ferociously
When the Turks were driven out of Saudi Arabia, the palace of the Turkish Governor in Riadh, to show scorn for the Turks, was converted into the capital city's prison.
"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is the shortest sentence that uses every letter in the alphabet at least once
Antonio Biancani (1699-1746) of Milan, Italy, was born in a prison cell and 47 years later, convicted of treason, he was sent to his death from the same prison cell.
A huge Banyan tree in the Marquesas Islands contains bones & skulls in its branches as it serves as the tribal cemetery. Things are tough all over: owners of pet and work horses in the EU (European Union) have to sign a pledge not to eat their horses
In 1296, Allah-ud-din Khilji invaded India and laid seige to Delhi. When they ran out of rocks for the catapults Khilji had 100 pound sacks of gold loaded in them and continued the bombardment. After several hundred were launched, the city surrendered. Dorothy Catherine Draper, the subject of a daguerreotype made by her father in 1840, was the first photograph ever taken of a person with their eyes open.
Only four of ten newborn hyenas survive birth. The first toy advertised on TV in America (1952) was Mr. Potato Head, which required the use of an actual potato. Each year the dates of 4/4, 6/6, 8/8, 10/10, and 12/12 fall on the same day of the week: in 2010 it was Sunday and in 2011 it was Monday. The 13th falls on Friday more often than any other day each year. The 500 foot high Pyramid of Ichang in China is almost identical to Egypt's Pyramid of Cheops yet was created of sandstone by nature. The Basilica of St. Clement in Rome was built in the 12th century over an older church from the 4th century that itself rested on the ruins of a pagan temple. Urns in the Marriage Chapel of the Hapburgs in Vienna preserve the hearts of 54 members of the Imperial family, each of whom was married in the chapel. Almost half the 1100 violins made by Stradivarius have been lost or destroyed over time; just one of them recently sold for $16,000,000.
Torpedoes were not self-powered until WW1. During the Civil War, they were moored in harbors by Confederates who made them by filling beer barrels with gunpowder. Horatio Alger wrote 119 books inspiring boys to labor diligently and save their pennies, yet died in poverty as a spendthrift himself. Barstow, California, was named for the president of Santa Fe Railroad (now BNSF). After the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was president of Virginia's Valley Railroad, but died before its ground-breaking. Hays, Alberta, was named for the president of the Grand Trunk railway (now CN) before he died on the RMS Titanic. And Ripley, California, was named for another president of Santa Fe Railroad, Edward P. Ripley, believe it or not
After the sudden death of Margaret Mitchell, it came out that she had used some of the proceeds from her novel "Gone With The Wind" to put several black-American doctors through medical school. Mary Bruns lived her first 13 years above a Milwaukee Road train station. Born in 1944, her father was the station agent for over 20 years starting in 1938, except for serving in the war 1944-46, when his wife served as station agent. The world's largest silver nugget at 1840 pounds was found in 1894 near Aspen, Colorado
In 1791, a big new tax on whiskey made "moonshine" popular, and it became far more popular during Prohibition, sold from California to Washington D.C. including the White House (President Harding said he was no hypocrite since Prohibition had been passed by Congress over his veto.) In ancient times, making candles from tallow took so much time, they cost about $20 each in the marketplace. Unable to find gold or silver, Columbus sent 500 natives to Spain for use as slaves, but Queen Isabella refused to consider slavery and ordered them returned. Replaced by Conquistadors who did find gold, Spain eventually got rich without Columbus or slavery
On 6/11/27, Charles A. Lindbergh was congratulated at the White House for his New York-Paris flight on May 20. A newsreel company chartered a special train to rush footage of the event from Washington D.C. to New York while the film was developed in a baggage car enroute in just 3 hours 7 minutes, beating a competitor's airplane by a full hour. A rigid airship (zeppelin) had previously made the non-stop trip, but Lucky Lindy was the first to fly it solo
The Gobi Desert is rock, not sand, so a car can be driven is any direction on it. Gobi means "waterless place" in Mongolian. For centuries, the world's finest pearls came from the Persian Gulf. In the 1930s, the Japanese perfected cultured pearls and brought prices down. Thomas Edison and his assistants failed 1000 times before inventing the first successful light bulb. Early light bulbs had such a thick filament, they put out very dim light but lasted practically forever. One in a California firehouse has been burning constantly since 1901, Official webcam site. The hair of Alphonse de Rothschild, head of the bank in Paris, turned white overnight when Germany won the War of 1870 and ordered France to pay a Billion dollars in reparations
Skunks often share a burrow with a fox or raccoon as they are not good at digging their own, and who's going to mess with a fox or raccoon with that room-mate? Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, disappeared while crossing the English Channel in 1913 and was never seen again. US Postage 1825 to 1845 was 6 cents for up to 30 miles and 25 cents for 401 miles or more, per sheet of paper, so a three-sheet letter sent over 401 miles would have cost 75 cents. Railroads reduced the cost to just 2 cents per ounce anywhere in the 48 states by 1885. In 1932 the postage rate per ounce increased to 3 cents. During WW2, American railroads hauled almost a million troops per month in troop trains and hospital trains, a total of 43,700,000 between December 7, 1941 and August 1945, not counting troops that traveled on their own in passenger trains
The first mass-produced typewriters were manufactured by Remington Gun Company. For John Wayne's movie "The Alamo" a full-scale recreation of the much larger Alamo as it looked in the 1830s was built on a Texas ranch and still exists there. Boston was one of two other cities that bid on the Statue of Liberty.