Mullet Over


Have you been delighted with all our recent U.S. presidents?

james k whiteThere are few inventions that have had as much social and economic impact as Eli Whitney’s 18th century cotton gin. However, not all students of history realize that “gin” was simply an abbreviation of “engine.” For years I thought the invention had something to do with an alcoholic drink containing nutritious fibers.

Likely the reader has witnessed a dog vigorously shaking to remove water from its fur. The technique is both efficient and common amongst mammalian quadrupeds. Mice have been observed to oscillate at 29 times per second while the polar bear seems content with a mere 4 times per second.

Have you been delighted with all our recent U.S. presidents? It appears the citizenry has long been dissatisfied with White House performances. For instance, Martin Van Buren was referred to as “Martin Van Ruin” during his re-election bid. He was not re-elected. I will mention a linguistic side note: It was during this 1840 campaign that a distiller named E.C. Booz (supporting W.H. Harrison) sold whiskey in log cabin shaped bottles. Mr. Booz made a fortune marketing his innovative product.

Sometimes removing bandages to check the healing processes is damaging to the healing processes. Clever persons in Switzerland may soon provide a dramatic improvement to the medical world. Placing flexible optical fibers into bandages enables physicians to observe wounds without risking the dangers (exposure, infection, etc.) of dressing removal.

I trust that none of my readers would deliberately remove a towel from a hotel, cruise ship, etc. However, towel pilfering is a huge problem in some locales. An unnamed Hawaiian resort was losing 4,000 towels per month because of “inadvertent” theft. This rate has been cut by 81 percent since RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips have been sewn into the fluffy terry cloths.

Until 1910, a person who enjoyed chewing on “unstruck” matches risked being poisoned by white phosphorus. Records indicate toxins from those hazardous matches did kill at least one man.

The first modem (short for “modulation/demodulation”) was used in 1949 by the U.S. Air Force to transmit radar data.

The ubiquitous “qwerty” keyboard was arranged by Christopher Sholes and first used on a Remington typewriter in 1874.

“Bwana Devil” was released in 1953 and was the world’s first full length 3-D movie.

Before SOS became the internationally recognized distress call in 1911, CQD (Come-Quick-Danger) was used for that purpose. Well, I suggest that you refrain from gnawing on old matches – and do have a pleasant week.

James White is a retired mathematics teacher who enjoys sharing fascinating trivia. He can be reached at

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It just warms your heart

Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.

1.  A four-year-old child, whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman, who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy just said, 'Nothing, I just helped him cry.'

2.  Teacher Debbie Moon's first graders were discussing a picture of a family. One little boy in the picture had a different hair color than the other members. One of her students suggested that he was adopted.
A little girl said, 'I know all about adoption; I was adopted.'
'What does it mean to be adopted?', asked another child.
'It means', said the girl, 'that you grew in your mommy's heart instead of her tummy!'

3.  On my way home one day, I stopped to watch a Little League base ball game that was being played in a park near my home. As I sat down behind the bench on the first-base line, I asked one of the boys what the score was.
'We're behind 14 to nothing,' he answered with a smile.
'Really,' I said. 'I have to say you don't look very discouraged.'
'Discouraged?', the boy asked with a puzzled look on his face.
'Why should we be discouraged? We haven't been up to bat yet.'

4. Whenever I'm disappointed with my spot in life, I stop and think about little Jamie Scott.
Jamie was trying out for a part in the school play. His mother told me that he'd set his heart on being in it, though she feared he would not be chosen.
On the day the parts were awarded, I went with her to collect him after school. Jamie rushed up to her, eyes shining with pride and excitement. 'Guess what, Mom,' he
shouted, and then said those words that will remain a lesson to me....'I've been chosen to clap and cheer.'

God Bless All

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