Archive for the 'Oddball Facts' Category
Wednesday, June 10th, 2015
A lot has been happening in my world — all good for a change.
Long story short, my writing time has been severely compromised
The upshot is that MAPping Company Success will be published intermittently for the next few months.
I have no idea what effect, if any, this will have on you, but if you do need a project done or anything else you can always contact me directly.
In the meantime, have a productive summer and be sure to spend some of it on you and yours
Monday, March 18th, 2013
We human beings are taught that it is rational thought that separates us from other animals—what we aren’t taught is that the ability to think rationally doesn’t necessarily translate to acting rationally.
While irrationality and outright stupidity isn’t new to the modern scene (think PT Barnum’s sucker) social media has certainly opened up new vistas on it.
One expects a certain level of irrational actions from teens, expressed these days by sending nude photos, but if you think adults have more sense think again; a new survey shows one in four adults stores intimate pictures on a mobile (easily hacked) device—which, as an adult, ranks as just plain stupid.
For both irrational and stupid you can’t beat those who turn to Twitter, etc., for investing advice accepting both poster and information at face value.
Startups often cater to irrationality, but they wouldn’t be in business without irrational customers—like the women willing to pay $18 for a box of tampons delivered regularly because they can’t remember to buy them.
Companies aren’t immune, either.
Online stores are trumpeting a service that only 9% of their customers want, paying celebrities for social media endorsements only to have their brand branded with the celebs bad behavior or irrationally deciding the only thing needed to foster an innovation renaissance is mandatory face-time.
However, my all-time favorite (that I’ve found so far) is Dennis Hope, who has earned a legal living since 1980 selling plots on the moon.
(Monday probably isn’t the best day to offer you distracting links, but these were burning a hole in my pocket; shades of Sundays past)
YouTube credit: TheeOscar2013
Sunday, September 23rd, 2012
Adversity: a condition marked by misfortune, calamity, or distress. Plenty of that around these days, but adversity is relative and doesn’t necessarily preclude world-shattering accomplishments. Consider these examples of adversity and accomplishment.
- Sir Walter Raleigh, after getting in deep doo-doo with the queen, spent 13 years in prison. How did he spend his time? He wrote The History of the World.
- Beethoven composed his greatest music after he went deaf.
- The poet Dante worked–and died–in exile.
- Daniel DeFoe wrote Robinson Crusoe while in prison.
- Pilgrim’s Progress was penned by John Bunyan during his imprisonment in Bedford Jail.
- He was too poor to buy paper so he used scraps of leather. That’s how Miguel de Cervantes managed to produce Don Quixote while jailed in Madrid.
If you want more current examples think about Dawn Loggins, whose life started among bullying, a broken home, drug use, squalor and, finally, abandonment by her parents, but was just accepted to Harvard.
Or Samantha Garvey of Long Island, who spent the last year in a homeless shelter with her family, but was one of 300 semi-finalists for the annual Intel Science Talent Search.
Now, what were you saying about adversity?
Hat tip to Steve Roesler for the historical adversity list.
Image credit: emospada
Sunday, August 26th, 2012
I find looking back at stats and happenings in a given year is always interesting. Not just for big happenings, but for an overview of that world. I had no real reason to choose 1953; it has no special significance to me, but here is a snapshot of the US in 1953.
The biggie was the end of the Korean War.
Ernest Hemmingway won the Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.
A guy named John married a gal named Jackie.
- The average wage was $4000/year;
- an average house cost $9500;
- an average car cost $1600; and you could
- fill it up for 20 cents a gallon.
But for all that I still wouldn’t want to go back to a 1953 world.
Image credit: Five Starr Photos
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
(Obviously, I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties!)
Continuing last weeks social assistance to ease those awkward silences that may happen during (gasp) face2face holiday get-togethers.
Interacting with kids you see only occasionally, or even those you see more often, can be fraught with pitfalls.
Here’s a safe, interesting tidbit to get a conversation going, especially at a tense family dinner when young children are present. Just mention that Walt Disney was afraid of mice, and watch the conversational ball start moving.
Girls are often more chatty than boys and easier to engage. Here are two questions that should generate some interesting commentary, including from any adults present,
- It is possible to lead a cow upstairs, but not downstairs. Why?
- A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why. What do you think?
Gross work better with boys, but you need to watch it since there are usually other generations present that don’t appreciate gorss. That said, here’s one that will bring out the snickers, turtles can breathe through their butts. However, if your audience tries the same trick you will be in big trouble.
Here’s one more to use as you see fit, either as a starter or to shut up a bore, donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes or shark attacks—good reason to watch your ass or stop acting like one.
Be sure to join me next week for great gambits that will light up all your gardening relatives.
Flickr image credit: meeshypants
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
The holiday season starts earlier every year. Dinners and parties that require conversation—often about subjects other than work or the differences between Android and iPhone. With that in mind, for the next three weeks Oddball Facts will provide some intriguing bits of information that you can use to start or rescue a face-to-face conversation.
Most of the time conversations starters begin as a “did you know” question like this, “Did you know that the first product to have a bar code was Wrigley chewing gum?
But they don’t have to.
Let’s say you’re a bit shy, but want to start a conversation with a clean-shaven guy who looks interesting. You might mention that the King of Hearts is the only king without a moustache and ask if he plays cards.
If you’re a guy looking for an opening line that’s not cliché, mix this factoid with a bit of charm like this, “You know, Venus is considered feminine and it’s the only planet that rotates clockwise, which probably means that the rest of the planets are masculine and a bit backwards.”
Or try this one if you like a more direct approach, but be careful, if you don’t get the second part out quickly it’s likely to backfire. “Did you know that you burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television? In fact, there are lots of things you can do in a bed or chair that burn more calories.
Factoids are also great conversation stoppers when you encounter a bore or, worse, a jerk.
For instance, you’re at a party and some woman is droning on and on about her most recent doctor visit or hospital stay. When she takes a breath you say, “Dentists say that one thing that will help you stay healthy is moving your toothbrush at least six feet away from the toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from flushing.”
Here’s a ‘did you know’ to shut up those folks who spend winter in the sun and brag about their tan, while you’re shoveling snow or dripping rain water on the just washed floor. Did you know that most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin?
Finally, a couplet for those obnoxious folks who insist on smoking around those who don’t just because they can legally do so.
You say, “I read an interesting article that at one time the three most valuable brands in the world were Marlboro, Coca Cola and Budweiser, in that order.”
Now that you have their attention, you say, “Of course, the first Marlboro Company owner, as well as the first Marlboro Man, both died of lung cancer, Budweiser was taken over by InBev and Coke is under attack for contributing to obesity.”
Amazing what a few facts and a little creativity can accomplish.
Flickr image credit: 101st CAB, Wings of Destiny
Sunday, September 4th, 2011
Personally, I’m big on cremation, but I do find great amusement cruising cemeteries and checking out what’s written on the headstones. I lost my collection during my last move, but found a few on the Net; nothing like what I had, but still good for a smile and even a giggle.
Way back in the 1600s John Dryden put this couplet on his wife’s grave; it’s doubtful that any woman of that time would dare put it on her husband’s, but I think these days it fits just as well for the guys.
Here lies my wife: here let her lie!
Now she’s at rest, and so am I.
The subject of food seems to be a major focus as displayed by these three,
Here lies old Rastus Sominy
Died a-eating hominy
In 1859 anno domini
Rears This Marble Slab
To Her Dear John
Who Died of Eating Crab.
Beneath this stone, a lump of clay,
Lies stingy Jimmy Wyatt.
Who died one morning just at ten
And saved a dinner by it.
In some cases, it’s imperative that your expertise extends to your profession.
He was a good husband;
a wonderful father,
but a bad electrician.
Some assume bad habits persist into the next life.
Rest in Peace,
Now you are in Lord’s arms.
Lord, watch your wallet.
Finally, we have the man of few words.
Once I wasn’t
Then I was
Now I ain’t again.
Flickr image credit: Fun Pic
Sunday, May 8th, 2011
I should have called this series “Did you know…?” because that’s how I keep wanting to start every time I write Oddball Facts. Oh well…
Seems that most people these days are either trying to lose weight, so, of course, they work at reducing the amount of food they eat. If the average person eats about 60,000 pounds in the course of their life—the equivalent of about six elephants—look around and just think how many extra elephants some of the people you see must have consumed.
I wonder it the half a billion dollars American kids spend on chewing gum is included or in addition to the 60,000 lifetime pounds.
While we’re on the subject of people food, you can add the more than $11 billion in comestibles that we feed our dogs and cats.
I often wonder why most Americans are upset over the possibility that the US Post Office will eliminate Saturday mail delivery in an effort to reduce costs. Canada eliminated Saturday service in 1969 and seems to be doing just fine.
Try dropping this bit of trivia at your next boring lunch or meeting—more people use blue toothbrushes, than red ones. If nothing else it’s sure shut people up while they try and come up with a response.
Finally, a salute to ingenuity, not to mention sheer guts. Cary Copestakes had tuition to pay and no money, so she decided to auction her virginity on eBay with a starting bid of $10,000 (at least she put a high value on herself). Lucky Cary, the man who won the bidding felt sorry for her, so he gave her the money, but didn’t collect on the service.
I wish you all a wonderful Mother’s Day, whether you are a mother or not.
Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/93014478@N00/3358790995/
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
Here’s a fun fact that’s a great conversation starter, or ender, depending. Do you know who the largest employer in the entire world is? The Indian railway system with more than a million employees.
If that goes over well try this one. What is the most productive day of the workweek? Tuesday.
Speaking of productive, think about Henry Ford. His name invokes images of production lines, the Model T and a new mobility for America. It should also remind you of backyard BBQs, since Ford also invented charcoal briquettes.
These days it takes a real gaffe to discomfit a company—if you can do it at all. How times have changed. When Scott Paper Company first started manufacturing toilet paper they were too embarrassed to put their name on the package.
Cost cutting by the airlines isn’t anything new. In 1987 American saved $40K; doesn’t sound like a big deal until you know that it was done by using one less olive on each salad served in first class.
Here’s a tidbit that would cut deeply into consultant revenue if management actually used it. The average company saved over $7,000 for each employee suggestion that it enacted. Of course, first they have to believe it.
Today wraps up in enough irony to include a bow on the package.
Did you know that the original owner of the Marlboro Company died of lung cancer?
Flickr image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/davef3138/2565322027/
Sunday, April 3rd, 2011
Nature never ceases to amaze me. No matter how much I learn I don’t have to look very far to find out it stuff I never would have dreamed.
For instance, in school we were taught that the heart is the strongest muscle in the body, but seems as if that’s not right, your tongue is strongest.
Speaking of tongues, crocodiles can’t stick theirs out; I don’t know about alligators.
Echoes are like shadows, everything has one, right? Wrong! Duck quacks don’t echo, but no one knows why.
Come summer when you’re scratching away at those pesky mosquito bites, just remember, it really is a bite, because mosquitoes have teeth.
Summer also brings butterflies for your viewing pleasure. Butterflies love the nectar, but did you know they taste with their feet?
While we’re on the subject of feet, whether you have two or four you can jump—as long as you aren’t an elephant. Elephants are the only animal that can’t jump.
One final human fact that you can verify yourself the next time you have a cold—it’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
See you tomorrow for a look at how insanely smart hiring creates stars and boosts retention.
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/s_fox/358204689/
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