Fact for August 23, 2008

The great city of Buffalo actually boasts numerous presidential connections. Millard Fillmore, the nation’s thirteenth president, was a native son (one of his first homes was around the corner from where I grew up) and served as the first president of the University at Buffalo (the alma mater of yours truly). In addition, Grover Cleveland, the only US president to serve two nonconsecutive terms, was mayor of the city before becoming President. In 1901 President William McKinley was assassinated at the Pan American Exposition in Buffalo and Teddy Roosevelt was thus sworn in while at the Expo (the site where McKinley died is now occupied by my – and Tom Fontana and the late Tim Russert’s – high school alma mater, Canisius).

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Fact for August 22, 2008

A blue moon is, officially, the second full moon in a calendar month.  This happens (two full moons in a calendar month) more often than people realize.

Fact for August 21, 2008

While most things shrink when they cool and expand when they are heated, water, in the small temperature range of 0º to 4º C, actually does the opposite.  This is why bodies of water rarely freeze all the way to the bottom – the ice expands and eventually closes off and insulates he water beneath from the colder air above.

Merged

I’ve decided to merge my short-lived second blog into this one.  It was called A Fact a Day and served to off-load all the useless facts rolling around in my head.  It seems easier to maintain a single blog, though, so I’ll keep doing it, but here at QM instead.

Fact for August 20, 2008

The Atlanta Braves baseball team is the oldest continuously operating franchise in professional sports.  Technically they began as the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, the first professional baseball team.  In 1871, when the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players first formed, the owners wanted no part of it, so the player-manager, Harry Wright, and two other players moved to Boston.  Thus 1871 is sometimes given as their starting date.  The Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds partially copied their names and even uniforms from the team’s original name.  The Chicago Cubs are nearly as old a team, but lost three years of playing time after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed their stadium.  The Cubs, incidentally, were once known as the White Stockings, a name later copied by the Chicago White Sox.

Fact for August 18, 2008

The first lawn mower was invented by English engineer Edwin Beard Budding in 1830.  You can still buy reel mowers today (my father just got rid of his and it looked pretty much like that picture).  Apparently powered lawn mowers have been around for over a century, a fact I only just learned and one that caused me great consternation since my father made me mow his lawn with that un-powered reel mower when I first started – in the 1980s.

Fact for August 17, 2008

By law (at least until the EU issues a final ruling on the matter), no shareholder in Volkswagen AG can hold more than 20% of the voting rights, regardless of their actual share percentage. This is known as the ‘Volkswagen Law‘ and was ostensibly developed to allow the German state of Lower Saxony, which holds a 20.3% stake in the company, to maintain a controlling interest. The largest actual shareholder is sister company Porsche (Porsche’s famed 911 is a direct design descendant, via the Porsche 356, of the VW Beetle; the latter was designed by Prof. Dr. Ing h.c. Ferdinand Porsche).

Fact for August 16, 2008

Sea cucumbers are animals that can grow to over 6 feet in length, can crawl and burrow, have digestive and reproductive systems – but do not have a brain. Hmmm. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere.

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