The Lunatic is in My Brain…

First of all this is all my own fault.  I made real coffee last night instead of decaf. It was bad enough to have to get up at oh-dark-thirty to go pee, but from that moment on, my caffeine-fueled mind was off and running like a pre-schooler with ADD: blocks, the water table, painting easels and dress-up all in under three minutes. I have often written that when pressed for ideas, when the cursor isn’t moving, the one thing you need to do is write. Write anything.  That’s what I’m doing today—kinda. I’m not writing anything, I’m writing everything. “I’ll take Potpourri for a thousand please, Alex…”

Jet Fuel
For the four and a half hours between my trip to the bathroom and finally giving up—sliding out from between my tangled sheets and trudging downstairs—my mind considered nearly all of the useless information I have rattling around in inside my head like the last Altoids mint in the tin. Did I use any of those barren hours to concoct new story ideas or map out the rest of existing plot lines, invent new characters, think of fabulous settings for a ripping good tale? No. Nothing as productive as that. And so this is pretty much how my night went over and over in an endless loop:

David Bowie has two different colored eyes, I wonder if there are any other celebrities with the same condition and what is that condition called?  Well there are other famous people with what is medically referred to as heterochromia including Dan Aykroyd, Jane Seymore and Keifer Sutherland among others.

How many people know that the diameter of a regulation basketball hoop is 18 inches?

Everyone quotes Mae West as saying, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?” That’s close but no cigar. The actual quote is, “Why don’t you come up sometime and see me?” Same with Mark Twain.  Most will tell you that he once said, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”  The real quote is, “The report of my death is an exaggeration,” which also brings to mind the “bring out your dead” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: “I’m not dead…I don’t want to go on the cart…”

Bad luck for the old sod.

Speaking of luck, I recently picked up a penny and noticed that the image on the reverse side of the penny is no longer the Lincoln Memorial. When the heck did that happen and who thought that the generic looking union shield was an improvement?  Then I began wondering how many times the US one cent coin has changed.

I researched it and the answer evidently is not that simple. From 1793 until 1857 the penny had a diameter of about 28 mm, which is bigger than a US quarter.  The obverse side (also know as the front) went through 6 designs (most of them variations on the same profile of Lady Liberty) and the reverse (or the back) looks like there were only 2 designs.  The size changed to the modern size in 1857 and we had 2 designs (flying eagle and the indian head) before settling on the bust of Lincoln for the obverse side in 1909.  The back went through several different designs until 1959 when a depiction of the Lincoln Memorial was placed on the reverse side.  In 2009 there were four new designs on the back to mark the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth illustrating four different phases of his life from childhood to President. And I guess I haven’t been paying much attention to pennies for a while because the current shield design was put into circulation in 2010.

What’s the difference between macerate and marinate? For many years I thought that macerate meant to pulverize, grind and mash; something that happens when you fall off your bike and your knee ends up looking like raw hamburger.  But I learned from watching all the right cooking shows that macerate means to soak in a spiced liquid to help soften or break down food—generally fruits. Marinate also means to soak in a spiced liquid but the difference is the intent: to enhance the flavor of meat or veggies and in some cases marinades are used to also tenderize. In general you macerate fruit and marinate meat.  However, if you marinate meat for too long it will start to break down and become—are ready for this?—macerated.

Who is the tallest man on record? That turns out to be Robert Wadlow of the US who stood 8 feet-11 inches (2.72 m). How about the oldest? That particular distinction goes to Jeanne Calment of France, who lived to be 122 years and 164 days old.

Which food is more popular: bacon or chocolate? I didn’t know so I hit the internet. Well, I couldn’t find any figures or polls comparing the popularity of both but I did come across a lot of recipes for chocolate covered bacon which means I’m not alone. Feel free to vote here:

Crepuscular is the term for visible slanting sun rays poking down through a hole in the clouds often referred to as “God’s Light.”  If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that this is one of my favorite words and that I will try to work it into the conversation any chance I get.

Congratulations to you if you made this far and thanks for sticking with me.  This seemed like a good idea for a post when I was laying in bed and couldn’t shake the disparate facts and questions from my sleep deprived head.  Now that it’s up on my blog, I wonder…

But wait, there’s more! In keeping with the theme of trivia and unanswered questions I thought I would share a poem that I wrote as part of a collection of children’s verse for my son (about 15 years ago) in the vein of Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. I hope you enjoy it:

Hey Dad

Hey Dad, what makes the sky look blue
And why is water clear?
Where in the world is Timbuktu
And why can’t Grandpa hear?

If blue and yellow make up green
What mixes to make red?
Why can’t I have a tambourine
Or jump on my own bed?

How do those heavy airplanes fly?
What keeps them in the air?
And is there something you could try
To help you grow some hair?

Just where does outer space begin?
Who invented Jell-o?
What is that red bump on your chin?
Why do teeth turn yellow?

I ask Dad questions every day
When we see each other
And every time he turns to say:
“Go and ask you mother.”

So that’s it.  I’m done.  I’ve run out of information.  I’m finished with the whole brain dump thing.  You should be loaded for bear at your next cocktail party or possibly a little better prepared for Jeopardy.  “I’ll take Potpourri for two thousand this time, Alex.” Oh look, it’s a Daily Double…

Questions: What’s your favorite bit of useless trivia? Where does you mind go on sleepless nights?

illustration by Andy Black

6 comments on “The Lunatic is in My Brain…

  1. And would you believe my mind just went blank? I usually have a mindful of useless information, but I haven’t had enough sleep to remember. I will say that this made me laugh. Thanks for that

  2. Hey, I’ve experienced that same lunatic! Kudos to you for just running with him. Excellent brain dump. 🙂

  3. I have those nights too. I wonder things like…I know alcohol kills people, but how many are born because of it…and I realized it’s been over 30 years since I did the hokey pokey, I guess after a while you just forget what it’s all about…and if you overlay a map of South America with a map of Africa it makes a T-Rex.

  4. Total fun and I voted for chocolate!!!!!.

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