Go To Potpourri - 2

Red-letter Day

We sometimes call a special occasion a "red-letter day." Why? In the old church calendars, dating from the 1400s, feast days and other holy days were marked in red. In England's First Book of Common Prayer, every Sunday, and every festival (Christmas, Easter, Ascension etc.) appeared in red letters to set them off from ordinary days. Eventually, it became the practice to call any special day, important for any reason, a red-letter day.

Why the name "Cape of Good Hope?"

In fact, Bartholemeu Diaz, the Portuguese explorer who in 1488 became the first European to sail around the cape at the southern tip of Africa, named it the Cape of Storms. However, the King of Portugal, wanting to encourage others to sail around Africa to India, gave it a pleasant name - the Cape of Good Hope. The name change did not cause a change in behavior. The cape continued to be treacherous and took the life of Diaz in a storm in the year 1500.

The Center of the Bible

Someone sent us the following as part of a longer email. Thanks. It's worth sharing.


The shortest chapter in the Bible is Psalms 117.
The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalms 119.
The chapter in the center of the Bible is Psalms 118.

Fact: There are 594 chapters before Psalms 118.
Fact: There are 594 chapters after Psalms 118.

Add 594 + 594 and the answer is 1188.
The center verse of the Bible is Psalms 118:8.

Psalms 118:8 (NKJV) "It is better to trust in the 
Lord than to put confidence in man."


The place in Brazil south of the Amazon along the Tapajos River where, from 1928 to 1946, the Ford Motor Company tried to produce rubber.  Today, Fordlandia is abandoned. On the land, Ford had carved a town from the Brazilian jungle, laid down miles of roads and railroads,  built a modern port, a factory, schools, churches, hundreds of brick and stucco bungalows, and a fully equipped hospital. The town had  swimming pools, tennis courts, and a golf course. Workers cleared thousands of acres and planted over five million rubber seeds. Botanists secured the finest, highest-yielding rubber plants from Malaya and the Dutch East Indies. The experiment promised a great deal.  By 1934, 1.5 million rubber saplings grew at Fordlandia. Then the leaf blight struck. Within a year the plantation was ruined. Ford had his scientists try again. This time he built another, larger, town nearby at Belterra. The result was the same. Today almost nothing remains of Ford's dream.

Carrots in the service of British wartime propaganda

During the second World War, British gunners were able, surprisingly, to shoot down German planes in the darkness of night. The British circulated a story during the Battle of Britain that their success was due to the extraordinary ability of their pilots to see in the dark, and that that ability came from eating a secret carrot diet.

The story achieved two purposes. On the one hand, it hid from the Germans the fact that the British had secretly introduced airborne radar technologies (Airborne Interception Radar),  which allowed them to “see” Nazi bombers better at night.

On the other hand, it helped solve a food problem in Britain. There was a glut of carrots, and the Government let it be known that the same carotene in carrots responsible for the RAF’s increasing success in shooting down enemy bombers would help ordinary citizens see better at night during the frequent wartime blackouts. The Ministry of Food and Ministry of Agriculture pushed this propaganda through advertisments in all the media. The slogan was  “Carrots keep you healthy and help you see in the blackout." Pamphlets with messages and recipes were widely circulated. This had the effect of encouraging Britons to buy and use more and more carrots.

The propaganda was based on a truth: carrots have beta carotene, which does help people with a vitamin A deficiency to see better generally, and improves night vision. It does nothing for people who have no vision problems.

More about the carrot myth  

was the skeleton afraid to jump off the top of the building?
Because he didn't have enough guts to do it.


Fascinating rearrangements:
     (Forwarded to SilverTorch by Yvette Walker)

The Words The Letters Rearranged

George Bush     ... He bugs Gore

Dormitory         ... Dirty room

Desperation      ... A rope ends it

The Morse Code ... Here come dots

Slot Machines    ... Cash lost in em

Animosity         ...  Is no amity

Mother-in-law    ... Woman Hitler

Snooze Alarms   ... Alas! no more Z's

A Decimal Point  ... I'm a dot in place

The Earthquakes ... That queer shake

Eleven plus two  ... Twelve plus one

Developing dynamite, then the pursuing peace
The Swedish chemist and inventor (and later philanthropist) Alfred Bernhard Nobel, was assisted his father in the development of torpedoes, mines and other explosives at a very early age. Yet he was to devote great resources in the cause of peace later in his life. His family developed the manufacture of a mixture of nitroglycerine and gunpowder. After a number of serious explosions, which killed several people (including his younger brother in 1864), Nobel continued experimentation in order to find a safer way to handle nitroglycerine. In 1866 he perfected a combination of nitroglycerine and kieselguhr, to which he gave the name dynamite. His other inventions include an explosive gelatin more powerful than dynamite. This invention revolutionized mining, road building and tunnel blasting but was used for less peaceful purposes as well. Alfred Nobel eventually became the owner of 355 patents. Nobel, who inclined toward the belief that disputes between nations should and can be settled peacefully, had for a long time had qualms about his family's industry, and he developed strong misgivings about the potential uses of his own invention. On his death in San Remo, Italy, he left a fund from the interest of which annual awards of merit, called Nobel Prizes, were to be given for work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, and literature, and toward the promotion of world peace. Later, other prizes were added.

 Venice is sinking

The ancient, formerly rich and powerful, city of Venice, Italy is sinking into the sea. Venice rests on millions of wooden piles driven into marshy ground. It is estimated that the city has sunk by about seven centimeters a century for the past 1,000 years, but the sinking may have accelerated over the 100 years. In 1966, when the city risked being destroyed by a flood, the people of Italy realized that something had to be done. A project to protect the city from floodwaters has been planned. However, the project, involving a series of moveable dams, is controversial and expensive. Meanwhile, Venice remains vulnerable to high tides that each year erode buildings and flood squares. A large number of residents have moved out of Venice because of the constant flooding, and the city is fast becoming mainly a museum visited mostly by tourists.

Kwanzaa or Kwanza

Kwanzaa is a seven-day, non-religious festival,  celebrating  African-American heritage, pride, community, family, and culture. It begins on December 26 and ends on New Year's Day. The word Kwanzaa is derived from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," which means "first fruits." The festival is based on traditional African harvest festivals in an African-American cultural setting.

Each day is dedicated to a particular principle (unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith), and on each day one of the candles on a seven-branched candelabrum is lighted. The celebration also includes the giving of gifts and a karamu, or African feast.

The African-American scholar and activist, Maulana Karenga,  conceived Kwanzaa in 1966 following the Watts riot. Karenga says Kwanzaa is organized around five fundamental activities common to other African first-fruit celebrations:

         the ingathering of family, friends, and community;

         reverence for the creator and creation (including thanksgiving and recommitment to respect the environment and heal the world);

         commemoration of the past (honoring ancestors, learning lessons and emulating achievements of African history);

         recommitment to the highest cultural ideals of the African community (for example, truth, justice, respect for people and nature, care for the vulnerable, and respect for elders); and

         celebration of the "Good of Life" (for example, life, struggle, achievement, family, community, and culture). 

Kwanzaa is celebrated in the United States, Canada, England, the Carribean and Africa.

More about Kwanzaa

George Washington's former nurse! 161 years old!

The old black woman, P. T. Barnum put on show at Niblo’s Garden in New York on August 10, 1835,  was declared to be the former nurse of George Washington, president of the United States of America. She was now blind and had no teeth. Her skin was shriveled and she suffered from partial paralysis. According to Barnum, she was 161 years old and weighed only 46 pounds. She was billed as “The Greatest Natural and National Curiosity in the World.” Her name was given as Joice Heth.

She was Barnum’s first big hoax and it ensured his success as a hoaxer. The doctor who performed the autopsy after her death said she could not be more than eighty years old. However, thousands paid to see Joice Heth and hear her tell about baby George, the “I can’t tell a lie” cherry tree story, and the hymns and songs she taught him.

Joice Heth helped start Barnum along the road to wealth and fame. She was followed by myriad curiosities, oddities, so-called freaks - some genuine some not – put on show by Phineas T. Barnum.

Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

Did you know that the Supreme Court of the United States had to decide this question? In 1893 the Court decided, for purposes of trade, to classify the tomato as a vegetable. However, the tomato is both a fruit and a vegetable. Botanists regard the part of a plant that carries seeds as its fruit. The tomato, therefore, is a fruit. The fruit of a plant is usually the fleshy part of a plant that has developed from a flower and has seeds. The three classes of fruit are (a) fleshy fruits with seeds in the flesh (such as tomatoes, apples, berries and melons), (b) fruits containing pits or stones (such as plums, cherries and peaches), and (c) dry fruits (such as peas, beans, nuts, and grains).
Vegetables are generally plants that have soft stems and little or no woody tissue. However, what determines whether a plant is classified as a vegetable is how it is regarded at table. Peas, beans, cabbage, broccoli and a host of others are regarded as vegetables because they are eaten as vegetables.

Did they really walk on the Moon?

While most people accept that  U.S. astronauts first got to the moon aboard the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969, there are some who don’t. Those who don’t accept it believe that the pictures of what happened that day were faked. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has been routinely responding to questions from doubters for decades. However,  ''Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?'' - a Fox television network program broadcast in 2001 - caused the questions to intensify. Doubters point out that a picture of astronauts planting the American flag shows the flag rippling in the wind. They contend there can be no breeze on the moon, so the picture must have been fraudulent.

Key West

The name of the lovely island of Key West, Florida does not have a lovely origin. "Key" came from the Spanish "cayo", meaning little island. "West" is the way "huesco" was pronounced. "Huesco" means bones. Key West therefore came out of the Spanish for "island of bones" - referring to the large amount of unburied human bones the Spaniards found there.

What creatures live in the dead sea?
None, except minute quantities of bacteria and fungi, notably the halobacterium, which, amazingly, can survive in conditions of high salinity. One of the saltiest water bodies in the world, the Dead Sea supports no fish or other creatures normally found in the sea. It is a lake with no outlet so the salt that the waters of the Jordan River and a number of small streams bring into it keeps accumulating, though some of it evaporates. The coastal surface of the Dead Sea, 1,292 ft (394 m) below sea level, is the lowest dry point on earth. It yields large amounts of mineral salts; potash and bromine are commercially extracted. In a ton of water from the Atlantic Ocean there are about 31 pounds of salt. In a ton of water from the Dead Sea  there are 187 pounds of salt.

Flatfish are strange. Both their eyes are on one side of the head, and the mouth is often quite close to the eyes. The side with the eyes is colored,  and the blind side is white. As a flatfish grows, one eye moves across the roof of the skull to lie next to the other eye. The young fish now begins to swim on one side. Eventually, it settles, lying on one side at the bottom of the sea with half of its body covered with mud or sand. The flatfish is totally adapted to life on the sea-bed.  In some species, the left eye migrates, while in others the right eye migrates, giving rise to left-eyed and right-eyed species. This large group of fish includes the flounder, sole and halibut.


When the white milky juice of the sapodilla tree coagulates, it is called chicle. Chicle is the principal ingredient of chewing gum. While experimenters were looking for a way to use this latex substance, Thomas Adams tried to make chicle into automobile tires, toys, masks, and rain boots. However, all his experiments failed. It happened that he put a piece of surplus stock into his mouth and the taste of it gave him an idea. He added flavor to it and soon after he opened the world’s first chewing gum factory. In February 1871, Adams New York Gum was placed on the market. Drug stores sold his gum at  a penny apiece.
The sapodilla tree (Manilkara zapota), grows in many countries of the Caribbean.
More about sapodilla


Walking leaves range from India to the Fiji Islands. And these walking leaves eat leaves to survive. Are they cannibal leaves? In fact, the walking leaf is not a leaf at all. It is a 3-inch-long insect with broad ribbed wings that fold over in the shape and general appearance of leaves. Even the legs of the insect have a leafy appearance. The walking leaf is masterfully camouflaged as it blends in perfectly with the trees and shrubs in which it lives. It is also called the leaf insect. When the wind blows, it even shakes its body to resemble a leaf being blown by the wind.


James Brown, Dean Martin, Jackie Wilson. How were they alike? All became popular singers. But there's more. All did amateur boxing before becoming popular singers.


You can have a horse as a house pet, if the laws in your locality allow you. Fallabella horses are real, live horses that can live in your house, if you want. They are usually about twenty inches high, but may be even smaller.
More about the Fallabella horse


That’s aspirin, of course. Americans take over 50 million aspirin tablets every day…. that's over 15 billion tablets a year.  A lot of the tablets are taken for everyday aches and pains but increasingly people are taking them to reduce the risk of heart disease. It is interesting that early aspirin ads used to say about aspirin: “DOES NOT AFFECT THE HEART.” Medical authorities now believe that aspirin does affect the heart …….. in a beneficial way.


Here is an unusual story of a man who took advantage of a Healthy Choice promotion and got himself a lifetime of free air travel. Click here for the story.


Actually it's quite a nice name for the product everybody uses to loosen rusted parts, free sticky mechanisms. It has real meaning. According to the WD-40 company,  "WD-40 literally stands for Water Displacement, 40th attempt. That's the name straight out of the lab book used by the chemist who developed WD-40 back in 1953. The chemist, Norm Larsen, was attempting to concoct a formula to prevent corrosion -- a task which is done by displacing water. Norm's persistence paid off when he perfected the formula on his 40th try."


Cappuccino is “espresso coffee mixed or topped with steamed milk or cream.” Where did it's name come from? From the Capuchin order (a Roman Catholic religious order) of friars. Their 16th century hoods were called cappuccinos and the color of the coffee resembled the color of the habit of a Capuchin friar. The word was first used in English in 1948.


Abraham Lincoln sagely observed: "No matter how much the cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens."

"Take out a one dollar bill and look at it. The one dollar bill you're looking at came off the presses in 1957 ...." 
 (For the rest of  this interesting story,


Low moisture unprocessed honey will keep indefinitely if stored in a sealed container free of outside moisture.  Honey’s natural antibacterial agents do not allow bacteria to survive. It is best stored at room temperature. Refrigeration promotes granulation.


The scientific name of the raccoon is Procyon lotor. “Lotor” means “washer” and is part of the raccoon’s name because early observations led naturalists to believe that the raccoon always washed its food before eating it. However, in spite of its frequent dunking of food and other objects in water and the washing motion the raccoon displays, most scientists today believe that there is some other reason for this activity. It has even been observed that sometimes the raccoon would eat food that is dirty. Whatever the reason for the animal’s constant washing motions, we should use it as a reminder to wash our hands and other parts of our bodies  should they  come in contact with the raccoon or its droppings. Raccoons, you see, sometimes contract the deadly viral infection known as rabies.


I took an IQ test and the results were negative. 

Time is the best teacher; Unfortunately it kills all its

Warning: Dates in Calendar are closer than they appear. 

3 kinds of people: those who can count & those who can’t.



 Well, a lot depends on where and how they meet. Sharks are relatively large creatures. A sea hedgehog is small – less than one foot long. If a shark swallows a sea hedgehog,  that should be the end of the matter for the sea hedgehog. But this is not the case. The shark dies and the sea hedgehog survives.

 The sea fur of the hedgehog (also called “globefish,” or “porcupine fish”) is studded with tough, sharp quills. When it is attacked and swallowed by, say, a 20-foot shark, the sea hedgehog  sucks in air or water and inflates itself enormously inside the belly of the shark. The spearlike quills now rip a hole through the body of the shark. The sea hedgehog then swims away through the hole, leaving the shark to die. 


The weaverbird, a relative of the sparrow, is found mainly in Africa, with a few species inhabiting Asia. The nests of weaverbirds are woven (hence the name) of grasses and other plant materials. Many species are colonial, building dozens of nests in a single tree; many pairs of birds nest in a single huge, cooperatively built structure with separate entrances. As many as seventy birds can populate a single tree, making it into a veritable birds’ apartment house, their bottle-shaped nests hanging from every branch. Males are mostly patterned in black and yellow, while females are inconspicuous, sparrowlike birds, colored in buff and brown. There is such a heavy traffic of birds around a weaverbird colony that enemies tend to stay away.


She was the light-skinned but black slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson, former President of the United States. Sally bore five children for the aristocrat of Virginia. Four of them survived and passed for white community quite easily. One son, Madison Heming, bore a striking resemblance to his father.  Jefferson, who opposed slavery but had many of them, directed that after his death his slaves be freed. This was done.


No, it has nothing to do with music. It’s a little island southwest of the United Kingdom with only a lighthouse on it. It is also listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the smallest island in the world. Incidentally, the largest island in the world is Greenland.


Your funny bone is not a bone. It's a nerve.
Coconuts are not nuts. They are very large seeds.
Brazil nuts, too, are not nuts. They, too, are seeds.
Fairy tales are often not about fairies at all.


Octothorpe is one of the names used for the # symbol on telephone keypads and typewriter or computer keyboards. It is also called the "number sign" or the "pound sign" and a number of other less familiar names. Why the “pound sign?” It was sometimes used to designate "£" (British money) by Americans whose typewriter keyboards did not have this symbol, and even to designate “lb” (weight). Now that you know, you may go ahead and show off …… at your own risk.

(via email from Allison Yvette Walker)

Does this sound familiar or what?
I have recently been diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D.
(Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder)

This is how it goes:
I decide to wash the car; I start toward the garage and notice the mail on the table.

Ok, I'm going to wash the car, but first I'm going to go through the mail. I lay the car keys down on the desk, discard the junk mail and I notice the trash can is full.

Ok, I'll just put the bills on my desk and take the trash can out, but since I'm going to be near the mailbox anyway, I'll pay these few bills first.

Now, where is my checkbook? Oops, there's only one check left. My extra checks are in my desk. Oh, there's the coke I was drinking. I'm going to look for those checks, but first I need to put my coke further away from the computer, or maybe I'll pop it into the fridge to keep it cold for a while.

I head towards the kitchen and my flowers catch my eye, they need some water. I set the coke on the counter and uh oh!                  

There are my glasses. I was looking for them all morning!  I'd better put them away first. I fill a container with water and head for the flower pots...

Aaaaaagh! Someone left the TV remote in the kitchen.  We will never think to look in the kitchen tonight when we want to watch television so I'd better put it back in the family room where it belongs.

I splash some water into the pots and onto the floor, I throw the remote onto a soft cushion on the sofa and I head back down the hall trying to figure out what it was I was going to do?

End of Day: The car isn't washed, the bills are unpaid, the coke is sitting on the kitchen counter, the flowers are half watered, the checkbook still only has one check in it and I can't seem to find my car keys!

When I try to figure out how come nothing got done today, I'm baffled because I KNOW I WAS BUSY ALL DAY LONG!!!

I realize this is a serious condition and I'll get help, BUT FIRST I think I'll check my e-mail...

Please send this to everyone you know because I DON'T REMEMBER WHO I'VE SENT THIS TO!!!

But please don't send it back to me or I might send it to you again!


Memorial Day has traditionally been a day of remembering the many who lost their lives during the Civil War and other wars in which the United States has been involved. However, increasingly it is for many also a time to honor all loved ones who have passed on before.
In the English-speaking Caribbean, the equivalent to Memorial Day is
Remembrance Day.

More about Memorial Day
Waterloo, NY, and origin of Memorial Day


A human baby is born with 300 bones. A human adult has about 206 bones. How come?  The baby’s bones, made of a special material called cartilage, is soft and flexible. During childhood, the cartilage grows and hardens. During puberty, some bones start to grow together. No bone material is lost, but because a number of bones fuse together the number of individual bones is smaller.

(via e-mail from a friend of SilverTorch)

 Every teenager should get a high school education. Even if they already
know everything.

 The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had
an argument going.

 Why does a slight tax increase cost you two hundred dollars and a
substantial tax cut save you thirty cents?

 In the 60's people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is
weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

 How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a
whole box to start a campfire?


Why is the dot over this i called a tittle?
Maybe it's because its so little.


The microwave unit in your kitchen is usually a very safe device, but there is danger in heating water alone in a container. Usually,  when water is heated bubbles are formed and they release energy that would otherwise build up in the heated substance. That is, the water boils. In the microwave oven, if the water is heated long enough a phenomenon called superheating can cause the water to heat up past its boiling point without actually boiling. When the cup or other container is then disturbed by movement, or by the adding of instant coffee granules, or a spoon, or whatever you put in it, the pent up energy is released violently. People have been injured by the explosive action of water which would not boil in the microwave.

The experts advise that you put your teabag, or your coffee, or whatever, in the cup before putting the cup in the microwave. These items prevent the dangerous superheating.

For more on the subject:
From "How Things Work"- University of Virginia
From the FDA


Traffic lights were used before the invention of the motorcar. Before traffic lights and the motorcar,  policemen were stationed at busy intersections to direct the traffic.

 In 1868, a revolving gas lantern with red (for “stop”) and green (for “caution”) signals was introduced at an intersection in London, England to control the flow of horse buggies and pedestrians.

When motorcars were introduced to the US in the late 1890s, Police Officer William Potts used railroad signals for street traffic. His electric traffic lights, with amber light added, were installed in 1920 in Detroit, Michigan, USA. The first of them was installed on the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues in Detroit. They were manually controlled.

It was Garrett Morgan, a gifted African-American inventor, who invented the first automatic traffic light  (also in 1920),  which was first used in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. All modern traffic lights are based on his original concepts.


The tiny ant loves it. The huge elephant loves it. Many people love it. But a lot of other people find it extremely offensive and can't stand it. It's the durian - a large, spiny fruit from a Malaysian tree.
The durian has large seeds surrounded by a custard-like, fleshy layer with a buttery sweet flavor. However, many people find its odor so foul, they could never bring themselves to eat it. Here are some comments about the durian: "The smell from hell, the taste from heaven." "Overripe chese, rotting fish ..." "Like eating custard in a sewer."


There are many scams and hoaxes on the internet. You may have seen a lot of them already. One of the sites on the Web dedicated to exposing them is You may want to look at it.


The ABC islands are Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao which sit close to each other in the Caribbean Sea. The official language of these islands is Dutch, but people there also speak English and Papiamento.

It's called the secretary bird. This bird is large,  standing about four feet tall. It strides through grass in stately manner while it searches for prey. The secretary bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens 18th century clerks used to stick to their wigs or tuck behind their ears.

The secretary bird is a tough bird. It is found mainly in the savanna and other open spaces in Africa, south of the
Sahara. It eats snakes, other reptiles, tortoises, amphibians, rats and other small mammals as well as young game birds. It would occasionally stamp vigorously apparently to flush prey.

The bird picks up smaller prey and swallows them. Larger prey, such as snakes, have to be subdued and killed. In the battles that follow, the powerful feet of the bird are used as effective weapons. The secretary bird does not have grasping toes like other birds of prey. Its toes are stout and blunt and are armed with short, curved talons.

This bird takes on even poisonous snakes, using its wings as a shield while striking at the snake's head with its powerful claws and skillfully jumping out of the way of the striking reptile. Eventually the snake becomes exhausted. The secretary bird would then hurl the snake several times in the air, finally crushing the snake's head with its claws.


In many ways, the llama is a wonderful animal. To the Indians of Peru it has been almost indispensable. It is a great help as a pack animal carrying loads up to about 100 lbs. However, if an Indian, or anybody, were to urge a llama  to go on when it was tired or just unwilling, he would be doing so at his own risk. The angry llama could spit some of its foul-smelling saliva in your face with surprising accuracy.

Apart from that it has been of great value to the Peruvian Indians. This domesticated animal is a member of the camel family. It looks like a large sheep with the face of a camel and has a long neck and long ears. Llamas are kept in herds, much like sheep, and may be white, brown, black or piebald.

They serve as the  Indians’ horse and cow. Apart from being a beast of burden, they provide wool, meat and milk. Their dung is also used as fuel.

The ancient Incas believed that the smell of the llama’s urine kept insects and evil spirits away. So they used the urine to wash their babies. Some of  the Indians of Peru do this even today.


Why do we use rings in our marriage ceremonies and wear them after? We do not know for sure. However, it is in Egyptian literature that we find the first reference to the use of rings in making marriage vows. In hieroglyphics, the writing used by the ancient Egyptians, a circle, which of course has no beginning and no end, represents eternity. The vows, symbolized by the ring, are therefore supposed to last through eternity.


In Florence, Italy and nearby areas there is a Festival of the Cricket which is very popular with children. The cricket referred to is the insect. It is sold in stores just like any other pet.  Boys and girls choose their own crickets and carry them around in tiny, painted, wood or wire cages and also present some to relatives and friends. The streets are full of excitement and fun, much of the noise coming from the chirping of the crickets. The children try keeping the crickets alive as long as they can.

(via email from a young reader)

Why do cows wear bells?
Because their horns don't work.

What is the most important use for cowhide?
It keeps the cow together.

What does one call a sleeping cow?
A bull dozer.


For one minute on February 20, 2002, those with 24-hour clocks saw the time as  2002, 2002, 2002, that is  20:02, 20/02, 2002. Those who study such things say that this symmetry will never be seen again.


The answer is that that was never its purpose. The term seems to have come into use in the high society in England in the 16th century. The practice was that after a formal dinner the men would remain in the dining room talking about what men talk about, while the ladies would withdraw another room to talk about what ladies talk about. That room to which they would withdraw became known as the “withdrawing room” and later the “drawing room.” The current meaning of the term is “A formal room where visitors can be received and entertained.”


A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor.
When you dream in color, it's a pigment of your imagination.
When two egotists meet, it's an I for an I.


We use the term “white elephant” to refer to something so expensive to maintain, it doesn’t really make sense keeping it. However, a “white elephant” is something that is hard to get rid of.

Naturally, the expression has a history. Throughout the Far East, white elephants, which are quite rare, have always been thought to very special. In Thailand, when a white elephant was born, it had to be presented to the King. In ancient times, the King of Siam (now Thailand) gave white elephants to people he wanted to ruin, because keeping an elephant was expensive, and a white elephant even more so. Of course, this special gift from the king could not be refused.

Most Thais believe that a white elephant embodies the soul of a dead person or even of an ancient god. It is therefore specially cared for and even worshipped. When a white elephant dies, its passing is mourned as if it were a human being.


(via email from Allison Yvette Walker)

Boss -  Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.
Dictionary -  A place where success comes before work.
Diplomat -   A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.
Miser  -  A person who lives poor so that he can die rich
Opportunist -   A person who starts taking bath if he accidentally falls into a river.
Optimist -  A person who while falling from Eiffel tower says in midway  "See I am not injured yet."
Politician -  One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.
Smile - A curve that can set a lot of things straight
Tears -  The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power.
Yawn - The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.



Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
A successful diet is the triumph of mind over platter.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.



To bring up children perfectly, just have the families exchange them. Everybody knows what to do with the neigbors' kids.

By James Patrick Kinney
(via email from Allison Yvette Walker)

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In black and bitter cold
Each possessed a stick of wood,
Or so the story's told.

Their dying fire in need of logs,
The first woman held hers back
For on the faces around the fire
She noticed one was black.

The next man looking 'cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn't bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

 The third one sat in tattered clothes
He gave his coat a hitch,
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

 The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store,
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy, shiftless poor.

The black man's face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight,
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

And the last man of this forlorn group
Did naught except for gain,
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

 The logs held tight in death's stilled hands
Was proof of human sin,
They didn't die from the cold without,
They died from the cold within. 

Tough-guy former principal, Joe Clark, who was able to turn around the violent Eastside High School in Paterson, New Jersey - a story chronicled in the 1989 film "Lean on Me"- has quit (January, 2002) as head of Essex County Juvenile Detention Center over measures regarded by some as too tough.
It was the language that he used in commenting on this development that we want to note here:

"I decided that I didn't want to be manacled and shackled by surreptitious little constipated gnats, hypocritical and hypercritical bureaucrats and educrats who would love to uplift their sagging posteriors at my expense."

"I came here to bring about a transmogrification and a revivification of this facility, and I have done that."

From e-mail I received

Copper wire was invented by two lawyers as they argued, then got physical, over a penny.         HA! HA! HA!


They called her AT&T - Always Talking and Talking



Shotgun wedding:  A case of wife or death.
He once worked in a blanket factory, but it folded.
A hangover is the wrath of grapes.



Pronounce the word "through." Now remove the first two letters. You're left with "rough." How is it that those two words are pronounced so differently? This is not an attempt to give an answer, but merely to repeat a question from someone trying hard to learn the English language. He is doing a course and is getting through; but it's rough.

Who? Well don't you know? His name is the first word in the national anthem of the United States of America: "Jose, can you see? By the Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!......

As you know, barnacles are those crustacean pests which fasten themselves to the bottoms of boats and ships and have to be scraped off regularly at great expense. But did you know that barnacles are relished as food by some people? Ilo and Pipa are two of the eating places in New York where you can order a barnacle dish. Among the choices: barnacle soup and barnacles in olive oil and garlic.



Energizer Bunny arrested - charged with battery.
A man's home is his castle ....  in a manor of speaking.
A pessimist's blood type is always b-negative.


The Tate Family
From e-mail I received

DIC TATE wants to run everything, while
RO TATE tries to change every thing; then
AGI TATE stirs up plenty of trouble with a lot of help from
IRRI TATE, whenever any new projects are suggested.
HESI TATE and spouse VEGI TATE want to wait a year.
IMI TATE tries to be like all the others and
DEVAS TATE provides the voice of doom.
POTEN TATE wants to be a big shot.
But now, all the members of the family aren't bad.
FACILI TATE is quite helpful with family matters, and
FELICI TATE is a happy member of the family.
COGI TATE and MEDI TATE always think things over and lend a helpful, steadying hand.
Finally there is the black sheep of the family,
AMPU TATE who has completely cut himself off from the rest of the family.
So much for the


If only life could be like a computer
From e-mail I received.

If you messed up your life -press 'alt-ctrl-delete'  and start all over again
To get your daily exercise - just click on 'run'
If you need a break from life - just click on  'suspend'
Hit 'any key' to continue life when ready
To get even with the neighbors, turn up the sound blaster
To add/remove someone in your life - click settings and control panel
To improve your appearance - adjust the display settings
If life gets too noisy - turn off the speakers
When you lose your car keys - click on find
'Help' with the chores is just a click away
Auto insurance wouldn't be necessary -
        you could use your diskettes to recover from a crash



                  809 IS HARDLY WHAT YOU WANT

From another email I received:

This one is being distributed all over the US. This is pretty scary-especially given the way they try to get you to call. Be sure you  read this & pass it on to all your friends and family so they don't get scammed! 

 Don't respond to Emails, phone calls, or web pages which tell you to Call an "809" Phone Number. This is a very important issue of Scam Busters because it alerts you to a scam that is spreading *extremely* quickly can easily cost you $24100 or more, and is difficult to avoid unless you  are aware of it.  

We'd like to thank Verizon for bringing this scam to our attention. This scam has also been identified by the National Fraud Information Center and is costing victims a lot of money. There are lots of different permutations of this scam. 

 You will receive a message on your answering machine or your pager,  which asks you to call a number beginning with area code 809. The  reason you're asked to call varies. It can be to receive information about a family member who has been ill, to tell you someone has been arrested,  died, to let you know you have won a wonderful prize, etc. In each case, you are told to call the 809 number right away. Since there are so many new area codes these days, people unknowingly return these calls. If you call from the US, you will apparently be charged $2425 per-minute. Or, you'll get a long recorded message. The point is, they will try to keep you on the  phone as long as possible to increase the charges. Unfortunately, when you get your phone bill, you'll often be charged more than $24100.00. 

 The 809 area code is located in the British Virgin Islands (The Bahamas). The 809 area code can be used as a "pay-per-call" number, similar to 900  numbers in the US. Since 809 is not in the US, it is not covered by U.S.  regulations of 900 numbers, which require that you be notified and warned of charges and rates involved when you call a "pay-per-call" number. There is also no requirement that the company provide a time period during which you may terminate the call without being charged. Further, whereas many U.S. homes that have 900 number blocking to avoid these kinds of  charges, do not work in preventing calls to the 809 area code. We recommend that no matter how you get the message, if you are asked to call a number with an 809 area code that you don't recognize just disregard the message.

  Be wary of email or calls asking you to call an 809 area code number. It's important to prevent becoming a victim of this scam, since trying to fight the charges afterwards can become A real nightmare. That's because you did actually make the call. If you complain, both your local phone company  and your long distance carrier will not want to get involved and will most  likely tell you that they are simply providing the billing for the foreign company. You'll end up dealing with a foreign company that argues they have done nothing wrong. 

 Please forward this entire message to your friends, family and colleagues to help them become aware of this scam. 

Sandi Van Handel
  AT&T Field Service Manager
  (920) 687-904