Archive for the ‘Trivia’ Category

A Yachting Life!

May 21, 2019

Today marks the anniversary of the first circumnavigation of the world by yacht (1853).

  • the ship: North Star (about 2,000 tons)
  • the owner: Cornelius Vanderbilt
  • the captain: Asa Eldridge
  • departed from: New York City (May 21, 1853)
  • returned to: New York City (September 23, 1853)
  • distance covered: more than 15,000 miles

The ship actually crashed on the rocks at Corlears Hook (New York City) on the first day of the voyage and returned to dry dock for some minor repairs before resuming the journey.  Stops included:

  • Southampton
  • Copenhagen
  • Le Havre
  • Malaga
  • Leghorn
  • Rome
  • Malta
  • Constantinople
  • Gibraltar
  • Tangier
  • Madeira

Source: Famous First Facts, by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

Fun Fact Friday, Number 127!

May 17, 2019

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “American history.”  Do you know . . . why the Mason-Dixon line was drawn?

No, it was not drawn to distinguish the North from the South during the U.S. Civil War, but rather, to devise a boundary in the eighteenth century between the Penn family of Pennsylvania and the Calvert family of Maryland.  In 1760, these two families agreed to have two English surveyors (Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon) to help establish this boundary which is between latitude thirty-nine degrees, forty-three minutes, fifteen seconds and thirty-nine degrees, forty-three minutes, and twenty-three seconds.  Technically, the Mason-Dixon line is not a true geometric line, but rather a series of adjoining lines.

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Fun Fact Friday, Number 126!

May 10, 2019

Today’s real facts (courtesy of are all about dragonflies.  Did you know that . . .

  • dragonflies have six legs but cannot walk?  (Real Fact #128)
  • the dragonfly can reach speeds of up to 36 miles per hour?  (Real Fact #396)


The Library 100!

May 7, 2019

OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center) has identified the one hundred “greatest” novels of all time.  Their metric for determining this: by the number of libraries that have a copy on their shelves.  So, here are the top-100 novels according to OCLC’s standard:

  1. Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
  2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
  4. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
  5. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  6. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  7. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
  8. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
  9. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
  10. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  11. Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
  12. The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
  13. A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
  14. David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
  15. A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
  16. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  17. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
  18. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  19. Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley
  20. Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
  21. Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  22. Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyesvsky
  23. Madame Bovare: Patterns of Provincial Life, by Gustave Flaubert
  24. The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  25. Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  26. The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
  27. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  28. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
  29. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  30. The Wizard of Oz, bu L. Frank Baum
  31. Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo
  32. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  33. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  34. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  35. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
  36. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
  37. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne
  38. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  39. The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame
  40. The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
  41. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
  42. Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
  43. The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
  44. Tess of the d’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy
  45. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
  46. Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
  47. Ulysses, by James Joyce
  48. The Complete Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  49. The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  50. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
  51. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
  52. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
  53. Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
  54. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
  55. Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott
  56. The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
  57. Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
  58. Black Beauty, by Ana Sewell
  59. Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
  60. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
  61. The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  62. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  63. The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain
  64. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce
  65. Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad
  66. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling
  67. The Red & the Black, by Stendhal
  68. The Stranger, by Albert Camus
  69. The Trial, by Felix Kafka
  70. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
  71. Kidnapped: the Adventures of David Balfour, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  72. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
  73. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
  74. A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
  75. Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray
  76. All Quiet on the Western Front, by Erich Maria Remarque
  77. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
  78. My Antonia, by Willa Cather
  79. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck
  80. The Vicar of Wakefield, by Oliver Goldsmith
  81. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain
  82. White Fang, by Jack London
  83. Fathers and Sons, by Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev
  84. Doctor Zhivago, by Boris Leonidovich Pasternak
  85. The Decameron, by Giovanni boccaccio
  86. Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell
  87. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
  88. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
  89. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
  90. Mansfield Park, by Jane Austen
  91. Candide, by Voltaire
  92. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway
  93. Far from the Maddening Crowd, by Thomas Hardy
  94. The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkein
  95. The Return of the Native, by Thomas Hardy
  96. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence
  97. Charlotte’s Web, by E.B.White
  98. The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss
  99. Bleak House, by Charles Dickens
  100. Père Goriot, by Honoré de Balzac

Source: OCLC (Online Computer Library Center)

Fun Fact Friday, Number 125!

May 3, 2019

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “quotations.”  Do you know . . . who was the first to write “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?”

Nope, it was not Alexander Pope, but rather the person who misquoted Alexander Pope’s statement that “a little learning is a dangerous thing.”

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Fun Fact Friday, Number One Hundred Twenty-Four!

April 26, 2019

Today’s real facts (courtesy of are all about cars.  Did you know that . . .

  • the city of Los Angeles has about 3 times more automobiles than people?  (Real Fact #137)
  • the blue whale’s heart is the size of a small car?  (Real Fact #232)
  • there are more saunas than cars in Finland?  (Real Fact #256)
  • New York was the first state to require cars to have license plates?  (Real Fact #849)
  • if you could drive your car upward, you would be in space in less than an hour?  (Real Fact #1392)


“In God We Trust!”

April 22, 2019

Today marks the day (in 1864) that the phrase “in God we trust” was coined.  the two-cent piece of 1864 was the first to bear this motto.

In addition, April 22nd was the day for several other “firsts,” such as the first . . .

  • neutrality claimed by the federal government (General George Washington, 1793)
  • death penalty ban by a state (Pennsylvania [except for murder in the 1st degree], 1794)
  • Library of Congress collection ($5,000 appropriation for books and to furnish a reading room, 1800)
  • round-the-world bicycle trip (Thomas Stevens, 1884)
  • capture of a ship in the Spanish-American war (American gunboat Nashville, took Spanish ship, Buenan Ventura, 1898)
  • ice-loading machinery (William Metz Ice Company, Pittsburgh, PA, 1917)
  • orchestra from the United State to make a European tour (Symphony Society of New York, 1920)
  • nuclear-powered submarine (Nautilus, Electric Boat Company [division of General Dynamics Corporation], Groton, CT, 1955)
  • Earth Day (1970)
  • American boycott of the Olympic Games (summer Olympics, Moscow, Russia, 1980)
  • genetically altered virus approved for use in a vaccine (Department of Agriculture, to fight a form of swine herpes,  1986)
  • museum commemorating the Holocaust (U.S. Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC, 1993)
  • state law decriminalizing hemp cultivation (North Dakota, 1999)

Source: Famous First Facts by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

Fun Fact Friday, Number One Hundred Twenty-Three!

April 19, 2019

The category for today’s trivial imponderable is “geography.”  Do you know . . . excluding cities in Alaska, which U.S. city is the largest in area?”

If you guessed Los Angeles (469.1 square miles, per the World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2009), you would have guessed wrong.  The largest non-Alaskan city is Jacksonville, Florida (757.7 square miles).

Source: Sorry, Wrong Answer: Trivia Questions That Even Know-It-Alls Get Wrong, by Dr. Rod L. Evans.

Book-of-the-Month Club!

April 16, 2019

Today marks the anniversary of the very first book-of-the-month club selection (1926).

  • the book: Lolly Willowes, or the Loving Huntsman
  • the author: Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • the publisher: Viking Press
  • original distribution: 4,750 members

The book club was establish in New York City in 1926 by Harry Scherman.  The original panel of judges included: Dorothy Canfield, Heywood Broun,Henry Seidel Canby, William Allen White, and Christopher Morley.

Source: Famous First Facts, by Joseph Nathan Kane, Steven Anzovin, and Janet Podell.

Fun Fact Friday, Number One Hundred Twenty-Two!

April 12, 2019

Today’s real facts (courtesy of are all about Hawaii.  Did you know that . . .

  • the Hawaiian alphabet only has 12 letters?  (Real Fact #26)
  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee commercially?  (Real Fact #138)
  • Hawaii is the only state with one school district?  (Real Fact #139)
  • Hawaii is the only state never to report a temperature of zero degrees F or below?  (Real Fact #142)
  • Hawaii has its own time zone?  (Real Fact #853)
  • Hawaiian pizza was actually created in Canada?  (Real Fact #1278)