By Lydia Hope Wilen / New York City
The Stamp Champ
Who knew that the most popular commemorative U.S. stamp of all time is the one with Elvis Presley? It was issued in 1993 after 75% of 1.2 million mail-in voters chose this picture of a 1973 Hawaiian performance over a young Elvis from the 1950s. In case you’re wondering, the USPS printed about 500 million of these stamps.
While we’re on the subject, it may come as a shock to know that Elvis recorded over 600 songs and never wrote any of them, even though he’s credited as co-writer on some tracks. Elvis never learned to read or write music.
Spring Ahead on March 12 at 2:00 AM
Yes, daylight saving (not savings) time. Ever wonder why the clock change takes place at 2:00 AM? We have President Woodrow Wilson to thank for that. Instead of adjusting clocks around midnight in March and November, Wilson wisely thought it would be less disruptive at 2:00 AM when no passenger trains were running in New York City. It was thought that bars and restaurants were closed by then and most people were at home, sleeping.
Last year, Reuters reported that the U.S. Senate passed legislation marking daylight saving time permanent, ending the changing of clocks twice a year. The measure was called the Sunshine Protection Act and was unanimously approved by a Senate voice vote. The House of Representatives still must pass the bill before it can go to President Biden to sign.
Google's headquarters, The Googleplex. in Mountain View, Calif., covers about 12 acres of grass and trees. To go 'low-carbon.' Google brought in goats as their lawn mowers. The goats feed themselves...100 goats can eat and clear an acre in one day. As you can imagine, the goats also provide organic fertilizer. Just watch where you walk. And if you don't believe me, google it.
I discovered an astounding statistic about trees. It led me to think of Trees, the beautiful poem by Joyce Kilmer, which made me think of the silly schoolgirl parody we recited. The last two lines were: “Boys are loved by fools like me, ‘Cause who would like to kiss a tree?” The ironic thing is that I have become a tree hugger. In case you didn’t know, Joyce Kilmer was a man. His first name was Alfred.
Getting back to the astounding statistic: our planet Earth is home to about three trillion trees. There are more trees on our planet than there are stars in the Milky Way.
Three trillion trees, including the 18,000 in Central Park. Thanks to these trees, New Yorkers can breathe a little easier.
If Pablo Picasso had signed his baptismal name on his canvas, there wouldn’t be any room for his painting. Picasso was baptized as Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno Maria de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santisima Trinidad Martyr Patricio Clito Ruiz y Picasso. Instead of 23 names, Picasso signed his artwork with only his last name. (Couldn’t remember the rest?) During his 91 years of life, it is estimated that he created close to 150,000 works of art. That’s a lot of signing.
Jaguar – Not the Cat, the Car
I have no interest in cars. The last time I drove a car was the day I took the New York State Driving Test. I passed, got my license and haven’t driven since. I’ve been renewing my license for decades to use as an ID. So why am I going to write about cars…Jaguars, to be exact?
If only parents would care for their children the way the car company cares for their Jaguars. Two examples. First: Jaguars are painted. Before the paint job, in order to avoid the bare metal from attracting dust between the final cleaning and the painting, the car is brushed with ionized emu feathers because they hold an electrostatic charge. How did they know? Who thought of that? How do I find an emu feather-duster?
The second example of extreme care: In order to load a car safely onto a train to transport it, the car’s driver doesn’t wear a belt or buckles and goes so far as to take out the metal shoelace eyelets from his shoes. This is done to eliminate the possibility of any part of the car being scratched. Without touching the outside of the car, the driver zips and then unzips an industrial grade cover over the car. I’ll stick with the emu feather-duster.
Oy Vey! Don’t Say “Obey”!
Princes Diana was only 20 when she married the then-Prince Charles, who was 12 years her senior. As young as she was, she was brave enough to buck tradition and not use the Church of England’s wedding vows. Even Queen Elizabeth II, stayed with the 1662 wording for women, promising to “obey” their husbands. Of course, men did not have to promise to obey their wives. Diana went with the church’s updated marriage service. She told Charles at the altar, she would “love him, comfort him, honor him and keep him, in sickness and in health.”
Her future daughters-in-law, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle (whom Diana never met), followed her lead and omitted “obey” from their wedding vows.
Respect the Insect
The buzzing of house flies is in the musical key of F.
An ant can carry 10 to 50 times its body weight.
One ladybug can eat 75 insects a day…5,000 in its lifetime. Gardeners love them in their gardens because ladybugs’ favorite food is aphids, the insects that can damage plants.
Crickets have more protein than salmon or beef and are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. Before you bring them into your kitchen, listen to their chirps. Supposedly, you can figure the temperature outside using this formula for a cricket outdoors: the number of chirps in one minute, divided by four, then add 40. Okay, now you can pick him up and bring him in for dinner.
Butterflies can see colors that we’re unable to see. It’s due to the fact that they can perceive ultraviolet light, which is beyond our visual capabilities.
Only female mosquitos bite.
Insects have 6 legs. If you count 8 legs, you’re looking at a spider…or four people.
Meanwhile, here’s hoping that you were amazed by some of the facts and enjoyed learning about things you ordinarily don’t contemplate. Think of these as impressive-but-casual statements at family dinners or at friendly get-togethers. If you want more of this kind of information, but are too busy or lazy to find it for yourself, let me know in the comment box or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lydia Hope Wilen had a successful collaboration with her late sister Joany as nonfiction bestselling authors (18 books), journalists, TV personalities, writers and talent coordinators on a Nickelodeon series hosted by Leonard Nimoy, Reading Rainbow episodes, skit writers for Dr. Ruth's TV show, Diet America Challenge on CBS, and writers of screenplays (optioned but not produced yet).
Lydia is writing on her own now and has just completed an extraordinary book for young people and their parents. It will have them laughing and learning...once she gets an agent and it gets published.