Happy Meal Facts!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Welcome to happy meal day at the fasab blog.

So tuck in tso a few interesting facts.

But above all…

Enjoy.

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did you know4

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Every 14.5 hours a McDonald’s

opens somewhere in the world

 McDonald's

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Almost everything in space is unimaginably big

and the supergiant, as the name suggests, is no exception.

Supergiants are among the most massive and

most luminous stars, more massive and up to a

million times more luminous than the Sun.

 Big things in space

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In Ancient Egypt servants were covered in honey

to keep flies away from pharaoh

 honey

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Antarctica holds as much water in its ice

as the entire Atlantic Ocean

 Antarctica

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In spite of the fact that they

built over 30,000 km of road,

the Incas never developed

or discovered the wheel

 Inca roads

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2.5% of the American population perished

during the American Civil War

 American Civil War

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The Hope Diamond is estimated to be worth

$200-250 million and resides at the

Smithsonian Natural History Museum.

It is said to be cursed and supposedly causes

great misfortune and misery to whoever wears it.

One wearer was even said to have been

ripped apart by dogs, and another by a French mob.

 Hope Diamond

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Did you know that you can get ice cream in

Bacon, Garlic, Deep Fried Oyster

and Corn on the Cob flavors?

 ice creams

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In Denmark all drivers must

check under the car before starting it,

just to see if there is someone underneath

 drivers must check under the car

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The Constitution of the Confederate States of America

banned the slave trade, and when

the American Civil War started,

Confederate Robert E. Lee owned no slaves,

whereas Union general U.S. Grant did.

 U S Grant and Robert E Lee

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Apparently men buy more ties during harder times

to appear as though they’re working.

Tie width used to be a factor due to austerity measures

during past wars but these days economists mainly

just look at the number of ties being bought.

 ties

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Yellowstone in the USA was the

first national park on Earth.

President Ulysses S Grant declared

it a protected area in 1872.

Yellowstone National Park

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Trophies, Medals And Loads Of Points In Today’s Quiz.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes there are questions about trophies and medals in today’s quiz, but most importantly there are loads of points to be collected – if you get the answers correct, of course.

And remember, if you do get stuck, you can find the answers waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down below, but please NO cheating.

Enjoy and good luck.

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quiz confused1

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Q.  1:  What is known as ‘The Eternal City’ ?

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Q.  2:  In which sport is the ‘Vince Lombardi Trophy’ awarded?

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Q.  3:  What acid accumulates in the muscles once the anaerobic threshold is passed when doing exercise?

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Q.  4:  Who surrendered to whom, where and when to formally mark the end of the American Civil War? (A point for each correct answer, so a maximum of four points available.)

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Q.  5:  In which country are the ‘Angel Falls’, the world’s highest waterfall?

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Q.  6:  Who was the ‘sea green incorruptible’ who lead the reign of Terror in the French Revolution?

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Q.  7:  What was the name of the first spacecraft was the first to reach the Moon’s immediate orbit, and the first to be placed in heliocentric orbit?

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Q.  8:  Which major spiral galaxy is the closest to the Milky Way?

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Q.  9:  What is an ‘ECG’ used to show and in this context what do the letters ‘E-C-G’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

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Q. 10:  Which alkane, chemical formula ‘CH4’, occurs naturally in oil wells, marshes and cow farts?

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Q. 11:  This Irish-born soldier and diplomat, was also one of the first graduates from Harvard, and had one of London’s most famous streets named after him, what was his name?

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Q. 12:  How high is the top of a badminton net above the court?

            a) 3 feet            b) 4 feet            c) 5 feet            d) 6 feet

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Q. 13:  Which lead character was the budding author in the ‘The Waltons’ ? (And a bonus point for each of the actors who played this character.)

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Q. 14:  What is the correct title for someone who shoes horses?

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Q. 15:  Who was a searcher, a quiet man and a shootist amongst other things?

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Q. 16:  Which garden is considered to be among the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ ?

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Q. 17:  What is another word for ‘lexicon’ ?

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Q. 18:  What American outlaw had a brother called Frank and was killed by a member of his own gang. (Bonus points if you correctly name each of the following, the gang and the man who killed him.)

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Q. 19:  Where would you find the abbreviation for the Japanese manufacturing company Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha?

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Q. 20:  Which movie actor was the most decorated American soldier in World War Two?

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ANSWERS

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Q.  1:  What is known as ‘The Eternal City’ ?

A.  1:  Rome.

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Q.  2:  In which sport is the ‘Vince Lombardi Trophy’ awarded?

A.  2:  American Football.

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Q.  3:  What acid accumulates in the muscles once the anaerobic threshold is passed when doing exercise?

A.  3:  Lactic Acid.

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Q.  4:  Who surrendered to whom, where and when to formally mark the end of the American Civil War? (A point for each correct answer, so a maximum of four points available.)

A.  4:  General Robert E. Lee surrendered of his Confederate Army to Union Army  Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, at the Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

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Q.  5:  In which country are the ‘Angel Falls’, the world’s highest waterfall?

A.  5:  Venezuela.

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Q.  6:  Who was the ‘sea green incorruptible’ who lead the reign of Terror in the French Revolution?

A.  6:  Maximilien Robespierre. (You get the point for correctly giving the surname only.)

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Q.  7:  What was the name of the first spacecraft was the first to reach the Moon’s immediate orbit, and the first to be placed in heliocentric orbit?

A.  7:  It was the Soviet ‘Luna 1’.

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Q.  8:  Which major spiral galaxy is the closest to the Milky Way?

A.  8:  The Andromeda galaxy.

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Q.  9:  What is an ‘ECG’ used to show and in this context what do the letters ‘E-C-G’ stand for? (A point for each correct answer.)

A.  9:  The ECG shows heart activity and rhythm and it stands for electrocardiogram.

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Q. 10:  Which alkane, chemical formula ‘CH4’, occurs naturally in oil wells, marshes and cow farts?

A. 10:  Methane.

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Q. 11:  This Irish-born soldier and diplomat, was also one of the first graduates from Harvard, and had one of London’s most famous streets named after him, what was his name?

A. 11:  His name was Sir George Downing, and Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister is named after him. (And, yes, you get the point if you just said ‘Downing’.)

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Q. 12:  How high is the top of a badminton net above the court?

            a) 3 feet            b) 4 feet            c) 5 feet            d) 6 feet

A. 12:  The correct answer is c) 5 feet.

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Q. 13:  Which lead character was the budding author in the ‘The Waltons’ ? (And a bonus point for each of the actors who played this character.)

A. 13:  Officially ‘John “John-Boy” Walton Jr.’ but you get the point for just ‘John-Boy’. He was played by Richard Thomas in the pilot and series seasons 1–5, as well as guest appearances in season 6 and in the three movie sequels; Robert Wightman played ‘John-Boy’ in seasons 8–9 and one movie sequel.

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Q. 14:  What is the correct title for someone who shoes horses?

A. 14:  A farrier.

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Q. 15:  Who was a searcher, a quiet man and a shootist amongst other things?

A. 15:  John Wayne.

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Q. 16:  Which garden is considered to be among the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’ ?

A. 16:  The Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

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Q. 17:  What is another word for ‘lexicon’ ?

A. 17:  Dictionary.

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Q. 18:  What American outlaw had a brother called Frank and  was killed by a member of his own gang. (A bonus point if you correctly name each of the following, the gang and the man who killed him.)

A. 18:  His name was Jesse James, and for your bonus points the gang was the ‘James-Younger Gang’ and the member who killed him was ‘Robert Ford’, who hoped to collect a reward on James’ head.

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Q. 19:  Where would you find the abbreviation for the Japanese manufacturing company Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha?

A. 19:  The abbreviation is obviously YKK and it can be found on almost every zipper in the world. Take a look at your zippers if you don’t believe me.

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Q. 20:  Which movie actor was the most decorated American soldier in World War Two?

A. 20:  Audie Murphy.  (For the record some of his decorations were the Bronze Star with “V” Device and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Service Cross, Presidential Unit Citation and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart and Bronze and 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, Silver Star and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Medal of Honor, Legion of Merit, American Campaign Medal, European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, French Legion of Honor – Grade of Chevalier, French Croix de guerre with Silver Star, French Croix de guerre with Palm, French Liberation Medal, French Fourragère in Colors of the Croix de guerre, Belgian Croix de guerre with 1940 Palm.)

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Ants In Your Pants? There’s Plenty Of ‘Em!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Hi and welcome to fact day which does, as the title suggests, include an amazing fact about the number of ants ib the world. They may not be in your pants, but keep a look out just in case!

And now for the facts.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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Halloween, which we’ve all just endured another year,

is thought to have originated around 4000 B.C.,

which means Halloween has been around for over 6,000 years

and is one of the oldest celebrations in the world.

happy halloween

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Most vegetables and almost all fruits contain

a small amount of alcohol in them.

Cheers!

vegetables

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Some scientific studies suggest there are about

10,000,000,000,000,000 individual ants

alive on Earth at any given time.

Ants are estimated to represent about 15–20%

of the total terrestrial animal biomass,

which exceeds that of the vertebrates.

Ant from_a_bugs_life

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When Pluto was discovered it was initially

believed to be larger than Earth.

Now astronomers know that it’s about

1,455 miles (2,352 kilometers) across,

less than 20 percent as big as the Earth.

planets in our solar system smaller than earth

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Thomas Stewart Armistead was a Confederate officer

who fought bravely in the American Civil War.

After being wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness he

was captured and placed in a camp near Morris Island

where the Union authorities used him as a human

shield to prevent fire from nearby Confederate artillery batteries.

Thomas Stewart Armistead and 599 other Confederate officers

who had also been captured became known as “The Immortal 600.”

When, on November 16, 1922, Armistead died at the age of 80 he

was the last survivor and member of “The Immortal 600.”

Thomas Stewart Armistead

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The American football team the Baltimore Ravens are named

in honor of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem ‘The Raven’.

Baltimore_Ravens_logo

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The construction of the Great Wall of China took over 2 thousands years,

the very first parts being built as early as in the 8th century BC.

Great Wall of China

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Table for one, sir?

Amsterdam´s restaurant At Eenmaal,

founded by social designer Marina van Goor,

has become famous because the only type of table

that you can find in the restaurant is a table for one.

restaurant At Eenmaal

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The largest thermometer in the world is 134-feet-tall (40.843m)

and was built by businessman Willis Herron in Baker, California.

The thermometer is supposed to serve as a memento of

the highest recorded temperature in the U.S.

measured in nearby Death Valley

– 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56.6 Celsius) in 1913.

The thermometer is no longer in operation,

and was put up for sale in January 2013.

largest thermometer in the world

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In 410 A.D. Alaric the Visigoth demanded that Rome give

him three thousand pounds of pepper as ransom,

an amount not to be sneezed at.

Alaric the Visigoth

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Abu Nasr Isma’il ibn Hammad al-Jawhari was an author of

a notable Arabic dictionary containing about 40,000 entries.

He is also remembered in Arabic history for

his attempt to fly with wooden wings.

He leapt from the roof of a mosque in the old town of Nishapur,

whereupon gravity took control and

he promptly hit the ground and was killed.

Abu Nasr Isma'il ibn Hammad al-Jawhari

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If you spray an antiseptic spray on a polar bear,

its fur will turn purple.

I wonder who got close enough to find that one out?

antiseptic spray on a polar bear

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The Japanese Empire was the largest maritime empire in history,

spanning more than 7 million square kilometers and gained such

notoriety that it took atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

plus plenty of other battles to defeat it.

Japanese Empire

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The movie that grossed the most money that was

adapted from a T.V. cartoon is Scooby-Doo

scooby-doo

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Quite often when a book is made into a movie a lot of things get changed.

Sometimes this spoils the story for those who have read the book,

other times it can improve it.

In Robert Bloch’s novel  the main character ‘Norman Bates’

was short, fat, older, and very dislikable.

In Alfred Hitchcock’s movie version, however,

he was young, handsome, and sympathetic, and one

of the most well-known characters in film history.

Here are a couple of clips….

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Did You Know? – Today Is Fact Day.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes it’s fact day at the fasab blog, and that means another totally random selection of facts that – not only you never knew – but facts that you never knew you never knew.

Here they are.

Enjoy

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did you know2

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Saturn’s rings are only between

30 and 300 feet thick.

saturn

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Napoleon was once attacked by rabbits.
(I bet they were English!)

napoleon

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The Constitution of the Confederate States

of America banned the slave trade.

constitution-confed

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When the American Civil War started,

Confederate Robert E. Lee owned no slaves,

but Union general U.S. Grant did.

Robert E. Lee

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The Siberian rift lake, Lake Baikal,

is not only the deepest lake on Earth

but it also has the largest volume containing

roughly 20% of the Earth’s surface fresh water.

Lake Baikal

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Officially, the longest war in history was between

the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly.

It lasted from 1651 to 1986.

There were no casualties.

worlds+longest+war

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Neil Armstrong went through U.S. customs

in Honolulu, Hawaii,

on the way back from the moon.

neil armstrong customs

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The original Tron movie did not win an Academy Award

for best special effects because the judges said

they cheated by using computers.

Tron movie

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70% of murders in Detroit go unsolved.

crime scene

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Sorry guys, but Trojan Magnum condoms

are designed for most men to fit into

so that most purchases include an ego boost.

trojan-magnum-condoms

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Karl Marx was once a correspondent

for the New York Daily Tribune.

karl-marx

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The straw was probably invented by Egyptian brewers

to taste in-process beer without removing the fermenting ingredients

which floated on the top of the container.

Egyptian brewers

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The name for fungal remains found in coal is sclerotinite.

coal

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The forward pass was created by the football

team at Saint Louis University.

forward pass

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During his Presidency Bill Clinton sent a total of two emails.

(I guess he was busy doing other things!)

clinton-cartoon

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If It’s Facts You Want Here They Are!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Yes, here they are.

Fifteen more fabulous facts for you.

Hope you find something of interest in this selection.

Enjoy.

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did you know2

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When Canada’s Northwest Territories considered renaming itself

in the 1990s, one name that gained support was “Bob.”

nw-territories

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Some cats are allergic to humans.

cat

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The largest flag ever made was unveiled in Romania on May 27th 2013;

it weighed 5 tons and used 44 miles of thread.

largest flag ever made

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Walt Disney refused to allow Alfred Hitchcock to film at Disneyland

in the early 1960s because he had made “that disgusting movie Psycho.”

psycho

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George Washington insisted his continental army be permitted

a quart of beer as part of their daily rations.

quart of beer

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In Japan,

letting a sumo wrestler make your baby cry

is considered good luck.

sumo-wrestlers-make-babies-cry-in-japan-1

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Alaska is so big you could fit 75 New Jerseys in it.

Alaska's size relative to contiguous USA

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Sunglasses were actually invented by the Chinese but not to block the sun.

They were used by judges in courtrooms to hide their emotions.

Chinese-Judge

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In 1999, the U.S. government paid the Zapruder family

$16 million for the film of JFK’s assassination.

Zapruder film Screen-Shot-1963-11-22-at-6.16.58-AM

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The last widow of a Civil War soldier died in 2003.

Gertrude Janeway was 18 when she married 81 year old John Janeway in 1927.

When she died she was still receiving a monthly check for $70

from the Veterans Administration for a military pension

earned by her late husband on the Union side of the American Civil War.

The amount spanned three centuries.

last widow of a Civil War soldier

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Tasmania, Australia has the cleanest air in the inhabited world.

Tasmania-in-Australia_Splendid-beaches_27

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The Code of Hammurabi decreed that bartenders

who watered down beer would be executed.

(And quite right too.)

Code of Hammurabi

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During WWI, British tanks were initially categorized into “males” and “females.”

Male tanks had cannons, while females had heavy machine guns.

British WW1 Tank

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Bikini designer Louis Reard said

a two-piece bathing suit couldn’t be called a bikini

“unless it could be pulled through a wedding ring.”

Bikini

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Sigourney Weaver actually made that

‘impossible’ basketball shot in, Aliens: Resurrection.

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An Occurrence That Renewed My Love Of Reading

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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One of my blog friends, Kenton over at the Jittery Goat, wrote a post recently as part of the daily prompt series about the first book/story he read that gave him an interest in reading and writing. His choice was a good one, “To Kill A Mockingbird”.  

On a few occasions I have been asked the same thing and it is a very good question to put to anyone who is interested in either reading or writing or both.

When I was growing up the main influence as regards reading and writing was school. I’m sure that is the same for many of you. I was both fortunate and unfortunate here.

For a few years I had an excellent English teacher. Someone who was interested in the subject she taught, but someone who was equally interested in passing on her enthusiasm for reading and writing to her pupils. She was a great teacher and a great influence on her pupils. One could not but develop a taste for English literature, for exploring other writers and for writing too.

Now for the bad news.

As happens in schools, as you progress through the grades sometimes your teachers change. And unfortunately mine did.

I got lumbered with the most awful teacher there has probably ever been. Another woman, but this woman was one of those self-absorbed dullards who would probably have made any subject the most boring and tedious thing in the world.

She could take the most exciting story and just drain the life out of it. With poetry she did the very same, just killed it stone dead with her monotonous voice and her complete lack of feeling for the subject.

Watching the proverbial paint drying or concrete setting was real exciting stuff compared to this woman’s classes!

The result?

Sadly, for a few years she turned me, and I would guess almost all her pupils completely off both reading and writing. I will never forgive her for that.

However time passed and although I’m not sure how exactly it happened, I got the urge to start to read again. Perhaps to ease myself back into it I decided to start with some short stories rather than a long book or novel.

And what a great choice that turned out to be.

The first story I read in my new life as a reader once again was called “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge”. It was a tale set during the American Civil War and was written by Ambrose Bierce, who himself was a veteran of that war, and a gentleman of whom you will hear a lot more in future fasab posts.   

And so I have been reading and writing ever since, mostly for my own amusement and occasionally, as in this blog, also for the amusement of others.

I’d be interested to find out what you make of this story so I have reproduced it below. If you are unfamiliar with it, or want to refresh you memory if you have read it before, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

And when you are finished let me know what you make of it.

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AN OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE

by

Ambrose Bierce 

An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge

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A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below. The man’s hands were behind his back, the wrists bound with a cord. A rope closely encircled his neck. It was attached to a stout cross-timber above his head and the slack fell to the level of his knees. Some loose boards laid upon the ties supporting the rails of the railway supplied a footing for him and his executioners–two private soldiers of the Federal army, directed by a sergeant who in civil life may have been a deputy sheriff. At a short remove upon the same temporary platform was an officer in the uniform of his rank, armed. He was a captain.

A sentinel at each end of the bridge stood with his rifle in the position known as “support,” that is to say, vertical in front of the left shoulder, the hammer resting on the forearm thrown straight across the chest–a formal and unnatural position, enforcing an erect carriage of the body. It did not appear to be the duty of these two men to know what was occurring at the center of the bridge; they merely blockaded the two ends of the foot planking that traversed it.

Beyond one of the sentinels nobody was in sight; the railroad ran straight away into a forest for a hundred yards, then, curving, was lost to view. Doubtless there was an outpost farther along. The other bank of the stream was open ground–a gentle slope topped with a stockade of vertical tree trunks, loopholed for rifles, with a single embrasure through which protruded the muzzle of a brass cannon commanding the bridge. Midway up the slope between the bridge and fort were the spectators–a single company of infantry in line, at “parade rest,” the butts of their rifles on the ground, the barrels inclining slightly backward against the right shoulder, the hands crossed upon the stock.

A lieutenant stood at the right of the line, the point of his sword upon the ground, his left hand resting upon his right. Excepting the group of four at the center of the bridge, not a man moved. The company faced the bridge, staring stonily, motionless. The sentinels, facing the banks of the stream, might have been statues to adorn the bridge. The captain stood with folded arms, silent, observing the work of his subordinates, but making no sign. Death is a dignitary who when he comes announced is to be received with formal manifestations of respect, even by those most familiar with him. In the code of military etiquette silence and fixity are forms of deference.

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well fitting frock coat. He wore a moustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

The preparations being complete, the two private soldiers stepped aside and each drew away the plank upon which he had been standing. The sergeant turned to the captain, saluted and placed himself immediately behind that officer, who in turn moved apart one pace.

These movements left the condemned man and the sergeant standing on the two ends of the same plank, which spanned three of the cross-ties of the bridge. The end upon which the civilian stood almost, but not quite, reached a fourth. This plank had been held in place by the weight of the captain; it was now held by that of the sergeant. At a signal from the former the latter would step aside, the plank would tilt and the condemned man go down between two ties. The arrangement commended itself to his judgement as simple and effective. His face had not been covered nor his eyes bandaged. He looked a moment at his “unsteadfast footing,” then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream!

He closed his eyes in order to fix his last thoughts upon his wife and children. The water, touched to gold by the early sun, the brooding mists under the banks at some distance down the stream, the fort, the soldiers, the piece of drift–all had distracted him. And now he became conscious of a new disturbance. Striking through the thought of his dear ones was sound which he could neither ignore nor understand, a sharp, distinct, metallic percussion like the stroke of a blacksmith’s hammer upon the anvil; it had the same ringing quality.

He wondered what it was, and whether immeasurably distant or near by– it seemed both. Its recurrence was regular, but as slow as the tolling of a death knell. He awaited each new stroke with impatience and–he knew not why–apprehension. The intervals of silence grew progressively longer; the delays became maddening. With their greater infrequency the sounds increased in strength and sharpness. They hurt his ear like the trust of a knife; he feared he would shriek. What he heard was the ticking of his watch.

He unclosed his eyes and saw again the water below him. “If I could free my hands,” he thought, “I might throw off the noose and spring into the stream. By diving I could evade the bullets and, swimming vigorously, reach the bank, take to the woods and get away home. My home, thank God, is as yet outside their lines; my wife and little ones are still beyond the invader’s farthest advance.”

As these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man’s brain rather than evolved from it the captain nodded to the sergeant. The sergeant stepped aside.

II

Peyton Farquhar was a well to do planter, of an old and highly respected Alabama family. Being a slave owner and like other slave owners a politician, he was naturally an original secessionist and ardently devoted to the Southern cause. Circumstances of an imperious nature, which it is unnecessary to relate here, had prevented him from taking service with that gallant army which had fought the disastrous campaigns ending with the fall of Corinth, and he chafed under the inglorious restraint, longing for the release of his energies, the larger life of the soldier, the opportunity for distinction. That opportunity, he felt, would come, as it comes to all in wartime.

Meanwhile he did what he could. No service was too humble for him to perform in the aid of the South, no adventure to perilous for him to undertake if consistent with the character of a civilian who was at heart a soldier, and who in good faith and without too much qualification assented to at least a part of the frankly villainous dictum that all is fair in love and war.

One evening while Farquhar and his wife were sitting on a rustic bench near the entrance to his grounds, a gray-clad soldier rode up to the gate and asked for a drink of water. Mrs. Farquhar was only too happy to serve him with her own white hands. While she was fetching the water her husband approached the dusty horseman and inquired eagerly for news from the front.

“The Yanks are repairing the railroads,” said the man, “and are getting ready for another advance. They have reached the Owl Creek bridge, put it in order and built a stockade on the north bank. The commandant has issued an order, which is posted everywhere, declaring that any civilian caught interfering with the railroad, its bridges, tunnels, or trains will be summarily hanged. I saw the order.” 

“How far is it to the Owl Creek bridge?” Farquhar asked.

“About thirty miles.” 

“Is there no force on this side of the creek?” 

“Only a picket post half a mile out, on the railroad, and a single sentinel at this end of the bridge.” 

“Suppose a man–a civilian and student of hanging–should elude the picket post and perhaps get the better of the sentinel,” said Farquhar, smiling, “what could he accomplish?” 

The soldier reflected. “I was there a month ago,” he replied. “I observed that the flood of last winter had lodged a great quantity of driftwood against the wooden pier at this end of the bridge. It is now dry and would burn like tinder.” 

The lady had now brought the water, which the soldier drank. He thanked her ceremoniously, bowed to her husband and rode away. An hour later, after nightfall, he repassed the plantation, going northward in the direction from which he had come. He was a Federal scout.

III 

As Peyton Farquhar fell straight downward through the bridge he lost consciousness and was as one already dead. From this state he was awakened–ages later, it seemed to him–by the pain of a sharp pressure upon his throat, followed by a sense of suffocation. Keen, poignant agonies seemed to shoot from his neck downward through every fiber of his body and limbs. These pains appeared to flash along well defined lines of ramification and to beat with an inconceivably rapid periodicity.

They seemed like streams of pulsating fire heating him to an intolerable temperature. As to his head, he was conscious of nothing but a feeling of fullness — of congestion. These sensations were unaccompanied by thought. The intellectual part of his nature was already effaced; he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment. He was conscious of motion. Encompassed in a luminous cloud, of which he was now merely the fiery heart, without material substance, he swung through unthinkable arcs of oscillation, like a vast pendulum. Then all at once, with terrible suddenness, the light about him shot upward with the noise of a loud splash; a frightful roaring was in his ears, and all was cold and dark. The power of thought was restored; he knew that the rope had broken and he had fallen into the stream. There was no additional strangulation; the noose about his neck was already suffocating him and kept the water from his lungs. To die of hanging at the bottom of a river! — the idea seemed to him ludicrous. He opened his eyes in the darkness and saw above him a gleam of light, but how distant, how inaccessible!

He was still sinking, for the light became fainter and fainter until it was a mere glimmer. Then it began to grow and brighten, and he knew that he was rising toward the surface — knew it with reluctance, for he was now very comfortable. “To be hanged and drowned,” he thought, “that is not so bad; but I do not wish to be shot. No; I will not be shot; that is not fair.” 

He was not conscious of an effort, but a sharp pain in his wrist apprised him that he was trying to free his hands. He gave the struggle his attention, as an idler might observe the feat of a juggler, without interest in the outcome. What splendid effort! — what magnificent, what superhuman strength! Ah, that was a fine endeavor!

Bravo! The cord fell away; his arms parted and floated upward, the hands dimly seen on each side in the growing light. He watched them with a new interest as first one and then the other pounced upon the noose at his neck. They tore it away and thrust it fiercely aside, its undulations resembling those of a water snake. “Put it back, put it back!” He thought he shouted these words to his hands, for the undoing of the noose had been succeeded by the direst pang that he had yet experienced. His neck ached horribly; his brain was on fire, his heart, which had been fluttering faintly, gave a great leap, trying to force itself out at his mouth. His whole body was racked and wrenched with an insupportable anguish! But his disobedient hands gave no heed to the command. They beat the water vigorously with quick, downward strokes, forcing him to the surface. He felt his head emerge; his eyes were blinded by the sunlight; his chest expanded convulsively, and with a supreme and crowning agony his lungs engulfed a great draught of air, which instantly he expelled in a shriek!

He was now in full possession of his physical senses. They were, indeed, preternaturally keen and alert. Something in the awful disturbance of his organic system had so exalted and refined them that they made record of things never before perceived. He felt the ripples upon his face and heard their separate sounds as they struck.

He looked at the forest on the bank of the stream, saw the individual trees, the leaves and the veining of each leaf–he saw the very insects upon them: the locusts, the brilliant bodied flies, the gray spiders stretching their webs from twig to twig. He noted the prismatic colors in all the dewdrops upon a million blades of grass.

The humming of the gnats that danced above the eddies of the stream, the beating of the dragon flies’ wings, the strokes of the water spiders’ legs, like oars which had lifted their boat — all these made audible music. A fish slid along beneath his eyes and he heard the rush of its body parting the water.

He had come to the surface facing down the stream; in a moment the visible world seemed to wheel slowly round, himself the pivotal point, and he saw the bridge, the fort, the soldiers upon the bridge, the captain, the sergeant, the two privates, his executioners. They were in silhouette against the blue sky. They shouted and gesticulated, pointing at him. The captain had drawn his pistol, but did not fire; the others were unarmed. Their movements were grotesque and horrible, their forms gigantic.

Suddenly he heard a sharp report and something struck the water smartly within a few inches of his head, spattering his face with spray. He heard a second report, and saw one of the sentinels with his rifle at his shoulder, a light cloud of blue smoke rising from the muzzle. The man in the water saw the eye of the man on the bridge gazing into his own through the sights of the rifle. He observed that it was a gray eye and remembered having read that gray eyes were keenest, and that all famous marksmen had them. Nevertheless, this one had missed.

A counter-swirl had caught Farquhar and turned him half round; he was again looking at the forest on the bank opposite the fort. The sound of a clear, high voice in a monotonous singsong now rang out behind him and came across the water with a distinctness that pierced and subdued all other sounds, even the beating of the ripples in his ears.

Although no soldier, he had frequented camps enough to know the dread significance of that deliberate, drawling, aspirated chant; the lieutenant on shore was taking a part in the morning’s work. How coldly and pitilessly — with what an even, calm intonation, presaging, and enforcing tranquility in the men — with what accurately measured interval fell those cruel words:

“Company! . . . Attention! . . . Shoulder arms! . . . Ready!. . . Aim! . . . Fire!” 

Farquhar dived — dived as deeply as he could. The water roared in his ears like the voice of Niagara, yet he heard the dull thunder of the volley and, rising again toward the surface, met shining bits of metal, singularly flattened, oscillating slowly downward. Some of them touched him on the face and hands, then fell away, continuing their descent. One lodged between his collar and neck; it was uncomfortably warm and he snatched it out.

As he rose to the surface, gasping for breath, he saw that he had been a long time under water; he was perceptibly farther downstream — nearer to safety. The soldiers had almost finished reloading; the metal ramrods flashed all at once in the sunshine as they were drawn from the barrels, turned in the air, and thrust into their sockets. The two sentinels fired again, independently and ineffectually.

The hunted man saw all this over his shoulder; he was now swimming vigorously with the current. His brain was as energetic as his arms and legs; he thought with the rapidity of lightning:

“The officer,” he reasoned, “will not make that martinet’s error a second time. It is as easy to dodge a volley as a single shot. He has probably already given the command to fire at will. God help me, I cannot dodge them all!” 

An appalling splash within two yards of him was followed by a loud, rushing sound, DIMINUENDO, which seemed to travel back through the air to the fort and died in an explosion which stirred the very river to its deeps! A rising sheet of water curved over him, fell down upon him, blinded him, strangled him! The cannon had taken an hand in the game. As he shook his head free from the commotion of the smitten water he heard the deflected shot humming through the air ahead, and in an instant it was cracking and smashing the branches in the forest beyond.

“They will not do that again,” he thought; “the next time they will use a charge of grape. I must keep my eye upon the gun; the smoke will apprise me–the report arrives too late; it lags behind the missile. That is a good gun.” 

Suddenly he felt himself whirled round and round — spinning like a top. The water, the banks, the forests, the now distant bridge, fort and men, all were commingled and blurred. Objects were represented by their colors only; circular horizontal streaks of color — that was all he saw. He had been caught in a vortex and was being whirled on with a velocity of advance and gyration that made him giddy and sick. In few moments he was flung upon the gravel at the foot of the left bank of the stream — the southern bank — and behind a projecting point which concealed him from his enemies. The sudden arrest of his motion, the abrasion of one of his hands on the gravel, restored him, and he wept with delight. He dug his fingers into the sand, threw it over himself in handfuls and audibly blessed it. It looked like diamonds, rubies, emeralds; he could think of nothing beautiful which it did not resemble. The trees upon the bank were giant garden plants; he noted a definite order in their arrangement, inhaled the fragrance of their blooms. A strange roseate light shone through the spaces among their trunks and the wind made in their branches the music of Aeolian harps. He had not wish to perfect his escape — he was content to remain in that enchanting spot until retaken.

A whiz and a rattle of grapeshot among the branches high above his head roused him from his dream. The baffled cannoneer had fired him a random farewell. He sprang to his feet, rushed up the sloping bank, and plunged into the forest.

All that day he traveled, laying his course by the rounding sun. The forest seemed interminable; nowhere did he discover a break in it, not even a woodman’s road. He had not known that he lived in so wild a region. There was something uncanny in the revelation.

By nightfall he was fatigued, footsore, famished. The thought of his wife and children urged him on. At last he found a road which led him in what he knew to be the right direction. It was as wide and straight as a city street, yet it seemed untraveled. No fields bordered it, no dwelling anywhere. Not so much as the barking of a dog suggested human habitation. The black bodies of the trees formed a straight wall on both sides, terminating on the horizon in a point, like a diagram in a lesson in perspective. Overhead, as he looked up through this rift in the wood, shone great golden stars looking unfamiliar and grouped in strange constellations. He was sure they were arranged in some order which had a secret and malign significance. The wood on either side was full of singular noises, among which — once, twice, and again–he distinctly heard whispers in an unknown tongue.

His neck was in pain and lifting his hand to it found it horribly swollen. He knew that it had a circle of black where the rope had bruised it. His eyes felt congested; he could no longer close them.

His tongue was swollen with thirst; he relieved its fever by thrusting it forward from between his teeth into the cold air. How softly the turf had carpeted the untraveled avenue — he could no longer feel the roadway beneath his feet!

Doubtless, despite his suffering, he had fallen asleep while walking, for now he sees another scene — perhaps he has merely recovered from a delirium. He stands at the gate of his own home. All is as he left it, and all bright and beautiful in the morning sunshine. He must have traveled the entire night. As he pushes open the gate and passes up the wide white walk, he sees a flutter of female garments; his wife, looking fresh and cool and sweet, steps down from the veranda to meet him. At the bottom of the steps she stands waiting, with a smile of ineffable joy, an attitude of matchless grace and dignity. Ah, how beautiful she is! He springs forwards with extended arms. As he is about to clasp her he feels a stunning blow upon the back of the neck; a blinding white light blazes all about him with a sound like the shock of a cannon — then all is darkness and silence!

Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge.

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If you prefer to listen while you do something else, here is an audio version of the story:

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part one of four

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part two of four  

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part three of four  

   

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An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce, narrated by Robert Englund, part four of four  

 

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Coffee Anyone?

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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If you are a regular reader of this blog you will have realised that I like facts about various subjects.

One of them is food.

I have already done a post about peanut butter (click here) and one about chocolate (click here) , both everyday items that almost all of use and enjoy. ‘

Today’s post is about probably THE most loved and enjoyed drink that we use everyday.

So here we have lots and lots of things you probably never knew about you coffee.

Enjoy (with a nice cup of coffee or three perhaps).

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Coffee Bean Man

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According to legend during the 9th century Ethopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw their goats appearing to become frisky and ‘dance’ after eating coffee berries.

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Originally coffee was eaten.

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African tribes mixed coffee berries with fat to make energy balls

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Coffee has been used as a beverage for over 700 years.

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The rise of Islam contributed greatly to the popularilty of coffee. The religion prohibited drinking alcohol, but coffee was considered an acceptable drink

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In Turkey, the bridegroom as once required to make a vow during the wedding to always make sure to provide their wives with coffee. If they did not do so it was considered grounds for divorce.

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Also in Turkey, the intended bride is required to serve coffee to her parents and future husband when he comes to ask for her hand in marriage; however, she has no say so in the outcome of the request. Tradition has it that her response is in the sweetness or lack thereof of the coffee. Sweet coffee supposedly means she is okay with the arrangement while salty means she is not.

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All the coffee grown in the world grows in the bean belt which is the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn

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Hawaii is the only state in the US that grows coffee

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The heavy tea tax imposed on the American colonies in 1773, which caused the ‘Boston Tea Party’, resulted in America switching from tea to coffee. Drinking coffee became an expression of freedom.

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Black coffee with no sugar contains no calories.

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Drinking a single cup of coffee that has been brewing for 20 minutes provides the body with 300 phytochemicals which act as antioxidants and stay in the body for up to a month.

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New Yorkers drink almost seven times more coffee than other cities in the US.

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Coffee is a psychoactive. And at high doses it can make you see things… It can also kill you…The lethal dose of caffeine is roughly 100 cups of coffee.

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The French philosopher Voltaire is said to have drank 50 cups of coffee a day.

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In 1675 Charles II, King of England issued a proclamation banning Coffee Houses. He said that they were places where people met to plot against him.

 coffee house.

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Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth, after oil.

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70% of the world consumes Arabica coffee, which is mild and aromatic. The remaining 30% drink Robusta, which is more bitter tasting but has 50% more caffeine than Arabica

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Coffee grows on trees, which can grow up to 30 feet tall but commercially are cultivated to around 10 feet in height for easier picking

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A coffee tree has a lifespan of about 50 to 70 years.

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When it is in bloom, the coffee tree is covered with 30,000 white flowers which begin to develop into fruit after 24 – 36 hours.

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A coffee tree can flower eight times in any one year – depending on rainfall.

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The coffee cherries turn from yellow to orange and then bright red, 6 – 8 months after flowering.

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One coffee tree yields less than half a kilo of coffee per year.

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A French doctor in the 1600s suggested Cafe Au Laits for patients, inspiring people to begin adding milk to coffee.

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The coffee bean is actually a seed inside a bright red berry

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Coffee berries are picked, dried and stripped down until all that is left is the green bean

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Once shipped the beans are roasted at around 500F, after a few minutes the bean will pop and double in size, a few minutes after that the bean will pop again which means the bean is ready

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The aromas in coffee develop at the 10th minute of roasting.

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Coffee increases in volume during roasting by 18.60%.

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Caffeine is not the main bitter compound in coffee. Rather, the pungent perpetrators are antioxidants.

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George Washington invented instant coffee. No, not him, the George Washington from Belgiun, living in Guatemala in 1906, although the invention has also been claimed by a Japanese American chemist known as Satori Kato in 1901.

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Espresso is regulated by the Italian government because it is considered an essential part of their daily life

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Espresso is not a particular roast, bean or blend, just the way the coffee is prepared by shooting pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee

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Brewed espresso has 2.5% fat, while filtered coffee contains 0.6% fat.

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It takes 40 coffee beans to make an espresso.

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In 1822 the French were the first to innovate a crude espresso machine. The Italians then perfected this machine and became the first to manufacture it.

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Contrary to popular belief, espresso has one-third the caffeine of a cup of coffee, simply due to serving size differences.

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In 1785, the coffee revolt broke out in Prussia because coffee consumption was restricted to the nobility, the clergy and high officials.

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James Mason invented the coffee percolator on December 26, 1865.

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30% of coffee drinkers in US added a sweetener of some kind to their coffee, compared with 57% in UK.

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Coffee sacks are usually made of hemp and weigh approximately 132 pounds when they are full of green coffee beans. It takes over 600,000 beans to fill a coffee sack.

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October 1st is official “Coffee Day” in Japan.

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Scientists have discovered more than 800 different aromatic compounds in coffee.

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Italy now has over 200,000 coffee bars, and still growing.

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The term Americano comes from American GIs during WWII who would order espresso with water to dilute the strong flavor

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The term cup of Joe also comes from American servicemen in WWII who were known as big coffee drinkers

cuppa joe .

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The custom of tipping waiters originated in early European Coffee Houses, in order to receive good service in that loud, dirty, hectic place you needed to Tip Big.

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In the ancient Arab culture there was only one way a woman could legally divorce: If her husband didn’t provide enough coffee.

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Melitta Bentz a housewife from Dresden, Germany, invented the first coffee filter in 1908.

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Johan Sebastian Bach wrote an opera about a woman who was addicted to coffee.

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There is a way to brew coffee with marijuana in it and it is described as producing a “dreamy” kind of coffee buzz.

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In Greece and Turkey, the oldest person is always served their coffee first.

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Some of the worlds most powerful businesses, including Lloyds of London and the New York Stock Exchange, started life as a coffee houses.

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In the 1600s there was a controversy over whether or not Catholics could drink coffee, luckily for them Pope Clement VIII loved coffee and authorized its use.

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Caffeine, which is found in coffee, increases the effect of some painkillers, especially aspirin and paracetamol.

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Dorothy Jones of Boston was the first American coffee trader, In 1670 she was granted a license to sell coffee.

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In Africa coffee beans are soaked in water mixed with spices and served as candy to chew.

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A regular 6oz cup of coffee contains about 150 milligrams of caffeine, most physicians call this a “therapeutic dose”.

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There are over 50 species of coffee world wide. Though only 2, arabica and robusta, are commonly used in commercial coffee production.

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Robusta coffee beans have twice as much caffeine than Arabica beans, but our of less quality.

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If you drink five to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, you could get as much caffeine as from one or two cups of caffeinated coffee, a study found.

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To produce decaffeinated coffee the beans are steamed, so that dissolved caffeine rises to the surface, where it is washed off using an organic solvent called methylene chloride.

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Coffee can actually be used to fuel a car.

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At one point, Brazil had such a coffee surplus that they tried to find other uses for it, including using it to make plastic.

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The world record for most coffee consumption is 82 cups of coffee in 7 hours.

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Contrary to popular belief light roast coffee actually has more caffeine than dark roast coffee. The reason for this is that the longer coffee is roasted the more caffeine cooked out of the bean.

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An expert in preparing Turkish coffee is known as a “kahveci”.

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The Nicaraguan Margogpipe is the largest of all coffee beans.

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King Frederick of Germany created a special task force to search out illicit coffee smugglers. The task force was known as the Kaffee Schnuffler. The king believed that soldiers who drank coffee were not dependable.

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Both the French and American Revolutions were planned in coffee houses.

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‘Excelso’ or ‘supremo’ do not mean a better quality of coffee when used to describe coffee beans, it refers to the size of the coffee bean.

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Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets got his start doing coffee ads.

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One the largest misconception in the U.S. today about coffee is that Mocha Java coffee is a chocolaty beverage. In fact there is no chocolate in the Mocha or Java bean at all. Mocha is the name of the largest port in Yemen, here is where all of the African coffee beans are traded and transported. Java is the name of an island in Indonesia where the Java Bean comes from. Both coffees are a dark bean and provide a very rich and bold coffee, when you mix the two together you get Mocha Java coffee.

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Coffee at one stage in its life or another provides a living to more than 100 million people.

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During World War II there was a coffee drinking competition between the branches of the military. The Marines claimed to drink the most – twenty cups a day.

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Coffee was so scarce in Germany that during WWII “coffee bombs” or bags of coffee were dropped from planes to turn the people against their government.

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In Staten Island, there’s a restaurant owner that drinks fifty cups of coffee a day.

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The actress who played the Wicked Witch Of The West in the Wizard Of Oz, Margaret Hamilton, was promoting Maxwell House in the 1970’s.

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In December 2001 Brazil produced a scented postage stamp to promote its coffee – the smell should last between 3 and 5 years.

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No matter what people tell you, caffeine cannot help you sober up.

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The first webcam was invented at The University of Cambridge to let people know if the coffee pot was full or not.

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The Japanese believe that bathing in coffee grounds fermented with pineapple pulp will reduce wrinkles and beautify the skin and there is a spa in Japan that lets you bathe in coffee, tea, or wine. I wouldn’t drink it though…

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Before coffee caught on in the US in the 1700s, beer was breakfast drink of choice. Difficult choice!

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Irish coffee was actually invented to warm up cold American plane passengers leaving from Ireland.

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On May 11, 1926, the slogan “Maxwell House Good to the last drop” was trademark registered.

 Coffee-Posters.

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There is a tourist agency for people wanting to take coffee vacations called Cafe Away.

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Norway drinks the most coffee per person. The United States is ranked number 12.

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Teddy Roosevelt is and was the greatest American coffee drinker, consuming a gallon a day. But you probably shouldn’t attempt to do that.

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The name cappuccino comes from: the resemblance of the drink to the clothing of the Capuchin monks.

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A study conducted at the University of Sao Paulo found that sperm motility was markedly higher in coffee drinkers versus non coffee-drinkers. And it turns out that it doesn’t matter whether you drink one or ten cups a day: The only detectable difference was found between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers.

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Beethoven counted the number of coffee beans he used to make his coffee and insisted on 60 beans per cup.

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During the American Civil War soldiers who were craving coffee and couldn’t get it tried roasting sweet potatoes and corn to make a beverage similar to coffee. It obviously didn’t become a popular choice.

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In 1674 a group of London women formed a group called WPAC (Women’s Petition Against Coffee). They didn’t like the amount of time their husbands spent in coffee houses rather than being home where they belonged.

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According to David Levitsky, PhD, professor of nutritional science at Cornell University, “Caffeine decreases the rate at which the stomach dumps its contents into the duodenum – a part of the small intestine where digestion takes place – and also increases metabolic rate.” so sipping a cup post-meal could, in small part, help promote a healthy weight.

coffee maker .

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Water is the only beverage more popular than coffee.

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Coffee contains over 1200 chemicals and over half of those are responsible for creating its flavor.

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The average coffee drinker consumes 3 cups of coffee per day.

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Three countries consume 65% of the world’s coffee: America, France, and Germany.

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Coffee grounds sprinkled on the ground around plants and the garden will stop snails and slugs from eating the plants.

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Kenyan coffees are graded as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. ‘AA’ is the best coffee. In Costa Rica, coffees are graded as ‘Strictly Hard Bean’, ‘Good Hard Bean’, ‘Hard Bean’, ‘Medium Hard Bean’, ‘High Grown Atlantic’, ‘Medium Grown Atlantic’, and ‘Low Grown Atlantic’. Those coffee beans from Colombia are labelled as ‘Supremo’, ‘Excelso’, ‘Extra’ and the lowest grade, ‘Pasilla’.

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In 1763, there were over 200 coffee shops in Venice.

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Caffeine is on the International Olympic Committee list of prohibited substances. Athletes who test positive for more than 12 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of urine may be banned from the Olympic Games. This level may be reached after drinking about 5 cups of coffee.

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Coffee was first known in  Europe as Arabian Wine.

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It was said that cowboys made their coffee by putting ground coffee into a sock (hopefully a clean one) and immersed it in water heated over a camp fire. When ready, they would pour the coffee into tin cups and drink it.

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A study from the Harvard School of Public Health, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found that women who regularly drink fully caffeinated coffee have a 20% lower risk of depression than non-coffee drinkers. The study, which followed a group of women for 10 years, found that as more coffee was consumed (up to six cups per day), the likelihood of depression decreased.

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There are two major coffee markets in the world. One is in London, which deals with the buying of Robusta coffee. The other is the ‘C’ contract market, known as Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange (CSCE), which is in New York. It handles the trade of Arabica coffee. The ‘C’ market is also a futures market.

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Finally, can you see the man?

coffee test

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