For $24 one can purchase a Tom Tato


An improved lifeboat design has been developed by a Japanese ship builder and early results are impressive. The new lifeboats can withstand what would normally be vessel-crushing ocean waves and have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to become upright when overturned. The structures accommodate 35 people and are easily launched.

In 1695 Captain Billy Kidd sailed to the Indian Ocean with a commission from King William III to become a pirate hunter. Apparently the captain found hunting and looting from pirates too dangerous, so he began to waylay and rob various merchant ships. He navigated back to England in late 1695 and was planning to split his plunder with the British monarch – being as how both Kidd and the king were sort of named Billy. However, Billy the King saw things differently and confiscated all the plunder. And had Captain Kidd hanged.

Survival is not always easy or pleasant. For centuries, merchant caravans in the Middle East and parts of Africa would depart on long journeys with several laden horses and donkeys and a few well-watered unladed camels. At pre-determined rest stops in the expansive deserts, a camel would be slaughtered and the gallons of water stored in his stomach removed. The people would eat the camel meat and the people as well as the pack animals would drink the stored water.

I am not at all certain that the yield is worth the price charged, but for $24 one can purchase a Tom Tato. A Tom Tato is a plant that produces both tomatoes and potatoes.

A few years back, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered 80,000 wearable pin-buttons that said “For Kid’s Sake, Think Safety.” The buttons were quickly recalled and declared to be unsafe. It seems the little badges had protruding pins, sharp edges, were so small that children could easily swallow them – and were coated with a dab of lead paint. Doh!

Approximately one billion people speak Mandarin Chinese. However, the language is not well-suited for publications as there are about 5,000 characters (ideograms) in the Mandarin alphabet. Selecting the desired characters for writing can be a tedious process. Even the highly skilled can seldom set up text at a rate that exceeds ten words per minute.

Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124?-1204) is the only person to ever be queen of both England and France. The feat is not likely to be repeated since France no longer has queens. It has beans, greens and jeans – no queens.

The Blue Whale is believed to be the largest animal to ever have lived on earth. The water-dwelling mammal dwarfs any known dinosaur or ancient shark. Specimens 100 feet in length and weighing an estimated 190 tons have been observed.

That citrus fruit known as the clementine is a cross between an orange and a tangerine. The tasty produce was named in honor of Father Clement Rodier after he developed the hybrid in the gardens of his orphanage near Algiers. Anyways, use caution when joining up with a desert caravan and – have a great week.

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