Friday, June 5, 2009

Learn Something Already: Day 5

As you learn and challenge yourself, the brain continues to grow so...
Do these facts make my brain look fat?

On my final day of my quest to seek out new learning experiences for my brain makeover, I found a list of facts when I Googled “learn something new everyday”. Before re-posting them here, I decided that I should confirm these anonymous internet “facts” by checking their veracity on the um… internet.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.
After spending the 8 longest minutes of my life on the Wikipedia page about dimes and another 6 minutes Googling a variety of dime ridge related key words, I still could not confirm this information. The longer I tried to find out if there are indeed 118 ridges on the edge of a dime, the less I cared if there are 118 ridges on the edge of a dime, in the end realizing that, of course, I never really cared about dimes or their ridges, 118 or otherwise. I want a sandwich.

The average American, will spend 6 months out of 75 years waiting at red lights.
Here in Los Angeles, because of the population to automobile ratio, the average is 6 months out of every 5 months. Thank you! Goodnight Cleveland.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.
The folks say this isn’t exactly right, which is too bad since this is one of the more entertaining facts on the list.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
Sourcing a variety of different cat ear muscle related articles, this would appear to be true. I also learned that a cat’s ear can pivot 180 degrees. I am starting to feel a little light-headed, really.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
This is an adorable little factoid. I put it in the same category as: A “google” is a misspelled representation of an actual number – a “googol” is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes. Maybe I’m dehydrated?

Babies are born without kneecaps and they don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.
Don’t know if it’s true, but it’s creepy. Just felt up Bob’s 3-year-old knees and they feel cappy to me. He was not amused.

A snail can sleep for three years.
Snails must not have kids. I found the following information posted on Yahoo by some random snail aficionado, “Snails hibernate in the winter. This means they go to sleep while the weather is very cold. Snails bury themselves and close up the entrance to their shell with a door of slime. This hardens into a tough skin. This tough skin keeps predators out but a tiny hole allows air in. Some snails that live in the desert have been known to remain in their shells for two or three years.” She says it with such authority and conviction that I am going to take her word for it. “Door of slime.” I think they played our prom.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
Apparently this is false. Everything I found says that they do not blink at all. Some of the articles I read said that sharks don’t have eyelids. Other articles said that they do have upper and lower eyelids but that the lids do not close and that the shark eyeball is covered by a protective membrane. The pro-eyelid people were mostly at websites with URLs ending in .org so I’ll go with them. You know that thing you do at the movies or on a plane where you start dozing off and as your chin hits your chest, you jerk your head back and wake up? That’s where I am right now.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.
This is apparently quite controversial and I have found numerous, strong arguments supporting both views. My forehead just hit the keyboard.

OK. Seeking out new opportunities for learning has been taking effort. This new knowledge deal will sometimes happen organically during the course of my day, sometimes not. I have decided to resort to this wikimedia shortcut. I will get a brief article about something emailed to me everyday. (Nixon’s “Checkers Speech”, The History of Biology, The Battle of Midway)

It will also include various historical this-day-in-history headlines, a quote of the day and a vocabulary word-of-the-day. It's like the wiki version of a stocking stuffer page-a-day-calendar. In and out in less than two minutes. It’s no New Yorker subscription, but since my life isn’t set up to accommodate a guilt-inducing tower of un-read smart people articles right now, it will do. This experiment is about brain exercise and new information, if that new information happens to be “holystone (n):(nautical) A block of soft sandstone used for scrubbing the wooden decks of a ship," so be it.

What I learned: I've got a lot to learn.
I think I just felt my frontal lobe flex a little.


  1. What an entertaining post--factual or fiction. And we have a thing for snails in our fish tanks. Can I just tell you how many we "threw away" because we thought they were we find out they were hibernating!! Thanks for the info.

  2. I cancelled my subscription to Time years ago because on the second page they had a "facts" column. My mind works this way. Lincoln? Who the hell was he. I'll have the 118 ridges on a dime in my head for years! (Ah, thanks..) I've decided I can barely remember last week because my head is filled with useful facts like how many cars can be stacked end to end to reach the moon, how many variety of pea are there, sharks eyelids? There whent another constitutional amendment. Now we have Wikipedia! Thank god.

  3. Wow! I didn't know most of those things.... my brain hurts now.

  4. I've learned 2 things. 1. If I read your blog everyday I learn something. 2. Don't leave your 3 year old finger painting at the kitchen table for one second....not even to pee.


  5. If I am to be reincarnated, I think I will choose a snail. I don't mind the door of slime if I'm already asleep. I have lots of slimy doors already. Why not sleep?

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