Monday, July 16, 2007

Dog Days

It occurred to me a few days ago that we are now officially slap-dab in the middle of Dog Days, 2007.

Dog Days, you may know, is that ill-defined period in the middle of summertime when things seem to get… well… a little sluggish. The dictionaries actually use words like hot, muggy, lethargic, sultry, indolence, and stagnation. The dictionaries also say the period earned its name through some connection to Sirius, the Dog Star. I always thought Dog Days just meant it was so hot outside, that folk just laid around all day like dogs.

In modern-America, Dog Days is marked by the lack of news in the news media.
We live in the ultra-information age, when news stories change hourly and are flashed around the globe instantaneously. There are now five entire cable TV networks devoted to bringing us hourly news updates… and its BAD news for them if nothing’s really happening.

But, fact of the matter is, nothing much DOES happen during mid summer. Schools and colleges are out for summer. The state legislatures are not in session. Congress is winding down to their annual summer break. The new fiscal year has started, so all state and local government budgets have been decided, and taxes assessed accordingly. And most of the people who run the public agencies and quasi-public organizations which manufacture what we call news are taking many weeks of vacation time.

In short, nothing’s happening.

I was reminded of this last week when I got a call from a reporter with one of the state’s largest daily newspapers who asked me about the future plans of one of the elected officials I advise. I told the reporter, in effect, “sorry, there are no future plans at this time”. A day later, another reporter from another large daily paper. Again, I told him “no plans”. Interestingly, both newspaper carried my “no future plans” comments as news.

I guess it’s tough being in the “real news” business when there isn’t any news.

Fortunately, I’m not in the “real news” business: I just write this column about whatever happens to be on my mind each week.

Unfortunately, since we’re in the middle of the most sluggish, muggy, lethargic, stagnant time of the year, nothing new came to my mind this week; however, there is something I read on the internet a few months ago I though was good enough to pass along, so I’ll pass it along now. It’s called:
36 Things You Probably Didn’t Know--
"Stewardesses" is the longest word typed with only the left hand and "lollipop" with your right.

Maine is the only state whose name is just one syllable.

No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver, or purple.

"Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.

The sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter of the alphabet.

The words 'racecar,' 'kayak' and 'level' are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left (palindromes).

Only four words in the English language end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

Two words in the English language have all five vowels in order: "abstemious" and "facetious."

TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

A "jiffy" is an actual unit of time for 1/100th of a second.

A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.

A snail can sleep for three years.

Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

Almonds are a member of the peach family.

An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

Babies are born without kneecaps. They don't appear until the child reaches 2 to 6 years of age.

February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.

If the population of China walked past you, 8 abreast, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of 6 months waiting at red lights.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

On a Canadian two dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite!

Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.

The cruise liner, QE2, moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns.

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

More chickens than people are in the world.

Winston Churchill was born in a ladies' room during a dance.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

Actually, I have no idea whether these things are true or not. I just found them on the internet. But they sound true to me. Maybe you can check into them for me. It’ll give you something to do during the rest of Dog Days.


Anonymous said...

yo, why arne't you covering eckstrom we no you alwayz support him, dog days i guess

Anonymous said...

nice collexion of trivia - barn from mt. airy

Anonymous said...

badda bing badda boom

Fife said...

Great list of things to know. Plus, Anarctica is the only continent that has neither snakes nor reptiles.

Anonymous said...

must of taken alot of snapples to compile all those facts

Anonymous said...

A good list, but the typewriter examples may be off, e.g. lollipop is 8 letters, but even without thingking too long or using obscure words "monopoly" and "monobouy" come to mind which at least ties it at 8 letters, and since I am no word smith I believe that one might not be any good. A fun list none the less.

Louisa said...

Interesting to know.