Reveling in the Dog Days of summer and in the junk mail : Reflections : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Reveling in the Dog Days of summer and in the junk mail |
|by Roger Matile|
The junk mail has been arriving hot and heavy at our mailbox this summer and as we revel in the Dog Days, we ought to be figuring out how we can bottle some of this summer's heat to be opened in deepest January.
The Dog Days age generally considered the hottest, most sultry days of summer. Old-timers will tell you the Dog Days fall between early July and early September, so we've just gotten a good start on getting through them. Not that there's complete agreement on that, of course. The Old Farmer's Almanac reports the Dog Days are the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the ancient rising of the Dog Star at sunrise. The period is the time of year when rainfall is typically the lowest.
But on the other hand, the 1552 edition of The Book of Common Prayer stated the "Dog Daies" begin on July 6 and end on August 17.
The Dog Days' name is said to have come from the ancient belief that Sirius, also called the Dog Star, was somehow responsible for the hot weather. In today's modern age, however, we know that hot weather is caused by TV weathermen predicting it. Truly, we have come a long way.
So as you ponder the Dog Days and try to figure out why Sirius doesn't seem to rise at the same time it did for ancient Romans (hint: look up "axial precession" in your Funk & Wagnalls), let's tackle that pile of junk mail that's been accruing in the corner of my home office for the past few weeks. With letter opener in hand (actually, my old Boy Scout knife), here are a few things a guy like me may never have found out if he hadn't opened all his junk mail each and every day the mail carrier drove up to his mailbox:
Only female mosquitoes bite. Male mosquitoes are either too civilized or too lazy to bite anyone.
The largest caught on rod and reel was a great white shark that weighed 2,664 pounds that was hooked and landed by Alfred Dean near Ceduna, South Australia, on April 21, 1959. I suspect he was not using ultra-light tackle or a fly rod.
It is said that Eskimos have more than 20 words to describe snow. So do residents of Illinois, but 19 of them are unprintable in a family newspaper.
In fountains, the water traditionally comes from a lion's mouth because in ancient Egypt, it is said, the Nile River flooded in August when the sun is in the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Right.
According to the 2000 Census, the residents of Nevada move from one home to another more often than residents of any other state. A quarter of the state's residents changed dwellings in the 12 months prior to the census.
Most people, by the age of 60, have lost 50 percent of their taste buds and 40 percent of their sense of smell. I wonder if they ever find them again?
The Babylonians and Egyptians brewed beer more than 6,000 years ago. I wonder what their rate of chariot accidents was.
The fear that he might conceal a joke in it was said to be one reason Benjamin Franklin was not entrusted to write the Declaration of Independence. Ah, the trials of a humorist.
In the third century B.C. courtiers of the Imperial Chinese court were required to carry doves in their mouths in order to sweeten their breath before addressing the emperor. It must be true; it says it right here in black and white.
A trillion dollar bills laid end to end would circle the world 3,882 times.
Icelanders read more books per capita than any other people in the world, but then there isn't a lot else to do in Iceland anyway except watch the volcanoes erupt.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stocks lakes by cascading newborn trout from an aircraft skimming the water at low speed. Kind of gives new meaning to the term 'flying fish,' doesn't it?
Half of the world's population lives in just four countries: China, India, the Soviet Union, and the United States.
Mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color. The rich, with their blue blood, had better heavily invest in Cutter's stock.
When malted milk was first invented in 1882, it was known as Diastoid. Sounds like some sort of breath mint.
Early Spanish and Portuguese traders took peanuts from the New World and used them in Africa to exchange for spices and ivory tusks. Peanuts apparently weren't just peanuts back then.
When the waltz was introduced in the late 18th century, it was denounced as a "riotous dance of modern invention." Kind of reminds me of the reaction to rock and roll and the Twist in the 50s and 60s.
The coastline of Alaska is longer than the entire coastline of the lower 48 states combined.
Only about three percent of the earth's water is fresh. About three quarters of the world's fresh water is frozen in glaciers and ice caps. Or it used to be, anyway.
Charles Dickens always wrote while facing north, aligning himself with the poles of the earth. Maybe that's my problem. If I just face north when I write, maybe I'll start turning out things like David Copperfield.
William Howard Taft is the only man ever to have been both Chief Justice and President of the U.S.
There are 336 dimples on an average golf ball, just a few less dimples than the number on the Dallas Cowgirls Cheerleaders.
The famous 16th Century astronomer Tycho Brahe had a gold nose. He lost his real nose in a duel. Apparently being an astronomer wasn't as calm a profession it is now days.
Finally, the King Ranch in Texas, at 825,000 acres and 1,289 square miles, is only a little smaller than the state of Rhode Island's 1,545 square miles.