Thursday, April 29, 2010

Rock And Roll

Once upon a time, my friends Matt and Jeff (there's a pun there involving a pair of comics characters from a century ago that I'm not going to mention) and I actually made an effort to become better AETs (Assistant English Teachers). As fresh meat rookies on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, we didn't really have clue how to teach English to our Junior High School gakkusei (students).

The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR - I know a couple of people who work for CLAIR who are unsure of the acronym's true meaning - go HERE for more on CLAIR) (Sorry... wrong link, but it's probably more fun than the Japanese alternative) had created various guides to aid the neophyte teacher. There were plenty of games and interesting ideas in the guides for us to choose from.

The three of us all correctly realized that our students would be more open to learning English if it was more fun--perhaps also because the three amigos were also quite enamored by the others sense of humour. Especially mine.

The games helped a great deal. However, CLAIR and most of our JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English - the real Japanese teachers we team-taught with at school) were firm believers in the power of song to teach English. While utilizing songs during our classes seemed to be a step in the right direction, I knew that I was blessed with a voice that could spoil natto. As well, none of the songs in our text books or guides moved us. I mean, "Beautiful Sunday" by Daniel Boone and Rod McQueen??!! Blllleeeccchhhh! Okay, it's a great song, but it's so... happy. By the way, it's not the Daniel Boone. Click HERE to see a video.

We figured that using popular Rock and or Roll songs would stimulate interest in our students to at least pay more attention in class, so we got together over the phone and plotted out our play list.

Since all Japanese students tended to have difficulty in saying the letters "L" and "R" (there is no L in the Japanese alphabets, and the letter R is pronounced like "dyu"), we wanted to find a song that might help them.
We settled on the classic song "Rock and Roll" by Led Zeppelin. We listened to the song hundreds of times and finally succeeded in copying down the lyrics. Remember, this was 1990, and while I might have been on the Internet for some 10 years now, not many people had even heard of it yet. Yes, I was a nerd. But I got better. I do like Led Zeppelin.

Anyhow, I took copies of the lyrics in to a 3rd year class (Grade 9's) and my CD of Led Zep IV and got down to brass tacks. Would you believe that these kids had never heard of Led Zeppelin? They had heard of some group called Ru-edo Ze-pu-rin. As well, they had difficulty with the words. Immense dificulty.
Click HERE to listen to the song.
That's what it sounds like.

This is what my students made it sound like: "Been a rongu time-u since I lock and lorr... been a rongu time, been a rongu time, been a rongu ronry, ronry, ronry, ronry, ronry time-u." At least they got the air guitar solos in the right spot.

Needless top say, I went back to the drawing board and decided on the classic tune, "I Sing A Rainbow" or whatever the heck it's called. Though not a rock song, I heard that it was permissible in these new rules I was making up.
Click HERE for a version of the song. 

On my visit the next day I cranked up the music nice and loud (please don't make me tell you that I had a CD of kid's songs) and led the class through the lyrics once. I sounded pretty good, but no one was going to eat lunch that week.

I then allowed the class to go it alone.

"I shi olange and pink and gu-reen, yerrow and pulpre and brue..." Whoops! Their poor little tongues spasmed and contorted into intricate knots that even an Eagle Scout would find hard to match. In the photo above, I'm checking on the health of one of the boys, while a few of the girls try and relax their tongue.

I guess the textbooks and guides were correct after all. Teach them simple songs - the nice easy stuff they recommend.

However, I learned it is still eventful to use one's own intiative... especially if you like to watch your students suffer.

Somewhere buying a stairway to heaven,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm pretty sure Matt & Jeff were just humouring me and didn't actually try this. Buggers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ain't Talkin' Bout Love

I knew it would be a fun day because I was still suffering from the happy feeling of last night's drinking party with my goldfish. The cool mountain air from the nearby Nasu mountain range wafted down at about a thousand miles-an-hour and tried unsuccessfully to move my highly gelled hair.

The old man who was to drive me to school was, of course, driving a top-of-the-line white car. White cars, as I may have mentioned once or 20 times previously, are the most famous type of car in all of Japan.

Anyhow, I got in, said my usual Ohio gozaimasu (Top of the morning, boy-o) and got a nod in return.

I then asked him Okenki desu ka (How's it going, eh?) and got another nod.

We then drove off never to speak to each other again until we arrived at his school 20 minutes later when I said Domo arigato gozaimasu (thank-you very much, Mr. Roboto). He gave me another nod.

It was a heinous nightmare of a car ride, too, because he liked the heat in his car to be equatorial. But, on the plus side, he did thoughtfully turn off his car radio so we could hear our silence more clearly.

Oh well. School. As I walk through the front doors by myself (where did Nod-san get to?) I was accosted by a male student who asks me if I "like sex", and do I "have a big pen-is?" Now even though I'm from Canada, and am pretty open-minded, it's not the type of question I feel like giving a 15-year-old boy. Now if a girl would only ask...

Still, this was one of the schools where I had previously dated one of the teachers for a few hours. Not that we actually dated or went out, more like I made a pass at and had it reciprocated so that we both accidentally on purpose ended up in a school washroom and no, I don't know where your sock is, but what's your name anyways?

And like clockwork, there she was. She walked up to me and kissed me on the lips saying "herro" (konichi-wa) and grabbed what the Japanese call my hip-pu (aka, my ass). This started a chorus of "eeeeeeeee's" (pronounced ehhhhhhhhhhhh?) from the gathering of students that magically appeared for that personal moment. Naturally, more English questions ensued from meandering students, like "What do you like positions?"

And though a very crappy television show, I was indeed saved by the bell, allowing me the opportunity to slip away to my first period English class. Entering, I slumped against a pillar so that I could look cool. That was pretty easy, because everyone had correctly guessed that I had boffed the girl's Phys Ed. teacher.

The class began working on the question "Where is/are your ...?" and the appropriate answer - the nod. Actually it's "The  ... is/are in/on/under/on top of the ...:

My job was to hold up a card depicting an object in a room. The first card I held up had three baseballs under a table.

Sweet, demur little 15-year-old girl ichi-ban (number one) stands up and asks: "Andrew, where are your balls?"

You can't make this stuff up, people. If there was a TV camera there, I would have turned to look directly into it and smirk before turning back to the girl and answering politely.

Unfortunately, there was no TV camera present, so I began laughing. Loudly.

Regaining my composure (but not my dignity), I held up the second picture - this one of a clock on top of a desk. Sweet, demur little 15-year-old girl ni-ban (number two) stands up and asks: "Andrew, where is your cock?"

Not even looking for a TV camera I began howling with laughter as I dropped to the floor in an exaggerated attempt to ensure everyone realized I found something she said funny. Apparently no one else got it, though. Regardless, I laughed long and hard, as I realized I got my wish - the one I made up in paragraph six of this blog entry.

Anyhow, with me unable to stop laughing, I was sent home as it was suspected that the tea I had thrust into my hand upon entering the school (I left that out to avoid explaining how it occurred... okay, anyone entering a home or place as a guest is immediately given ocha (green tea) served by as many females as possible) was the dregs of tea can usually reserved for the female teachers, and thus, somewhat "off" .

Somewhere realizing that was the best school ever,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Every once in a while that Phys Ed. teacher would drop by to make sure I was swell. Oh, and the title is by Van Halen. Nod if you knew that.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Day In The Life

Contrary to one of the more popular Beatles songs, it's not so easy to just wake-up and get out of bed here - at least here in Japan.

Every morning I get up at 6AM. Not because I want to, or have to, or because my alarm goes off, but rather because yet another one of my neighbourhood dogs thinks its time for everybody to get up.

It's one of those stupid, little miniature collies that, as a species, have a cumulative brain the size of an shelled walnut. Of course, a major portion of the blame should be directed at the dog's owners who so thoughtlessly toss the poor stupid creature out at the ungodly hour of 6AM and don't let it in until 7:30AM when it's time for them (ie the man) to leave for work.

Sure there may actually be some well-behaved and intelligent miniature collies, though the only ones I've ever heard of roam the Plains of the Serengeti with their cousins the Poodles-with-Good-Haircuts, which is a dying breed. Now this particular collie is obviously not from Africa. It has papers denoting its lineage, but it's piddled on them. Repeatedly. This dog is just plain stupid. It barks at nothing. It barks at rocks. It barks at parked white cars. It barks at the cold morning air. It barks at tree bark, or at least it would if the Japanese actually had any trees in their backyards that weren't dwarfed bonsai trees (which is redundant).

Going out of my mind every morning, I have tried everything to make it stop barking: like reasoning with it - "Shut up or I'll kill you, ya stupid mutt!!!"; feeding it - "Suck on this, you bastard!" I politely scream as I toss an egg at it; bribing it - "Please shut-up and I'll buy you a nice steak."

Although the dog has a brain the size of a pecan (I have revised my opinion after seeing a feline give it a CAT scan - I even saw the Lab(rador) report), this dog knows (somehow) that I would never be able to afford a steak here in Japan. It's stupid, not crazy.

On this particular day, I get up at the aforementioned appointed hour. I stumble over to the toilet and read the newspaper that I got while you were reading this sentence. Suddenly the air around me is rend by multiple explosions: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It happens again. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and again 30 seconds later, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Apparently that's the local farmers shooting some form of concussive bomb into the air to frighten away the birds that would eat their rice crop if there were any currently planted. It's the middle of bloody February, and there ain't nothing growin' nowhere, nohow. Hmmm, so maybe it's not the farmers. Maybe someone is trying to kill that damn dog. Yeah! Ha-ha! Give'em another!

BARK-BARK-BARK-BARK! Dammit... they must have missed.

A few minutes pass, and then a siren begins to blare. As it draws closer, it drowns out the dog's incessant barking. Louder! LOUDER!! BARK-Bark-Ba-Pee-Pon-Pee-Pon-Pee-PON! It sounds like an ambulance. Ha! Maybe somebody has shot the dog's owner!!

Then, as if on cue, there's a screech of tires, followed by the sound of crunching plastic(!!), as two white cars plow into each other to avoid yet another miniature collie that has wandered out into the street. The stray waddles over to the bereft-of-grass-yard where my bane lives and begins to bark at it. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! They start to have an argument. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!!BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!!

Brains the size of a shelled, half-peanut. Dry roasted.

The two women get out of their cars and begin bowing apologetically to each other, but still in my mind, they do it LOUDLY!!

The ambulance - PEE-PON!! PEE-PON!!! wheels around the corner and SREEEECHES!!!! to a halt as it is now unable to pass by the fresh accident where the two women continue to bow apologetically. And LOUDER!!!!!

The ambulance driver curses the two women. BAKAYARO!!!!! (stupid idiots!!!!!) And then continues his ranting at the stray miniature collie that has just relieved itself on the ambulance's front tire. Both of THEM!!!!!! The ambulance can no longer back up as a long line of white cars has appeared out of nowhere to trap it from behind - just below my apartment. The car horns begin to blare. HONK! HONK!! HONK!!! The air cannons fire up. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! A cacophony of barking continues. BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! BARK! BARK! BARK-BARK!! WOOF!!! A lone stray miniature collie piddles noisily on everything white. It's only 6:45AM.

Somewhere, somebody spoke and I went into a SCREAM!!!!!
Andrew Joseph   

Brought to you by The Beatles with accompanying cartoon by Gary Larson, The Far Side and one of his books I own.

Friday, April 23, 2010

We Are Devo

Q. How many people does it take to screw in a gaijin's light bulb?

A. Sixteen: One gaijin (little old foreigner me) to call his office supervisor (Kanemaru-san)(2) to ask where light bulbs are sold. The supervisor to call the apartment building superintendent (3). A visit from 11 Ohtawra-shi volunteer firemen (14) to come to said apartment after the supervisor and superintendent mistakenly believe the building is in flames. A visit from an electrician (15) who arrives on the scene at 9PM on a Saturday night with visions of Yen symbols in his eyes at the thought of overtime as he determines that the gaijin only has a non-functioning light bulb. And the superintendent's junior helper (16) aka idiot son-in-law who insists on installing a new lighting system all over the apartment building complex to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

Somewhere, are we not men?
Andrew Joseph 
PS: That's a photo of me standing outside the entrance of my apartment complex, waiting until the electrician leaves my place. Really. Except for the crappy shoes, I look goooood.
PPS: Title provided by Devo.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sushi Girl

It’s Sunday, October 28, 1990, and the last day of my vacation in Osaka to meet a friend of my family’s friends who thought I was my brother.

Confused? That’s what she said. She being Toshiko. Toshiko of the happy mistake of me being older than my 19-year-old brother. Toshiko of I’m going to make a move on this gaijin despite having a boyfriend.

Of course, she’s not to blame. Alcohol and me flirting – something I have done with every woman I have yet to meet in 1990 – made for an interesting and now guilty weekend of pleasure.

As mentioned, Ashley and I had a fight prior to me going to Osaka – and while we weren’t officially apart, as a guy I assumed it meant go ahead and see if you can make sushi out of some octopus parts, rice and seaweed. While not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, I do like my sushi.

I guess Osaka became my Oh Calcutta! See HERE and HERE .

As such, when Toshiko came to pick me, up from my hotel at 8:30AM and took me back to her apartment for breakfast, cornflakes were not on the menu.

So much for the guilt I felt yesterday. This time I can’t even blame it on the drinky-poo’s.
We finish up our “meal” and dress and head out to a local park and museum where theses PHOTOS are from.

Since poor Toshiko is broke – I swear I didn’t break her – much – I pay for our entrance into the museum. It’s a pottery museum. Now if I gave a crap about pottery at this time, I might have found it stimulating and perhaps even awe-inspiring. But, the Andrew of 1990 was not yet the Andrew of 1993. (To be fair, the Andrew of 2010 may not give a crap about pottery either).

To me, the museum is expensive – 1000 yen apiece (about $10 per), and I do find it boring and short.
We walk around a park, snap those photos you should have already looked at via the above link, and then… we have to go and meet her boyfriend for lunch. If either one of us feels guilty, we don’t show it.
The boyfriend, whose name I can’t recall, was a very nice guy. Very friendly and funny – but since I’m pretty sure I still smell of sex, I try to stand downwind of him at all opportunities. Thank goodness we bow in this country rather than shake hands.

At the restaurant he walks us to, we all have spaghetti and beer, and I notice that his face turns beet red after only a few sips. It seems to be a Japanese feature when alcohol is consumed, and one I will touch upon further at a later date – perhaps in a blog entitled One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer. Or perhaps not. I’ll probably forget to use this title when the time comes. So forget I said/wrote anything about it.

After the meal, we head over to the Shin Osaka eki (Osaka shinkansen/bullet train station). He says he has to head somewhere so it’s just me and Toshiko, so I don’t feel bad about giving her a good-bye kiss.
I get on the 3:44PM bullet train to Tokyo, and arrive exactly on time at 6:36PM. Not one minute early or late. On time. Canada could sure as heck take a lesson from the Japanese rail system regarding timeliness.

By the way, I peer out the window to my left – and due to some heavy rain cloud activity, I am unable to see Japan’s tallest and most famous mountain, Mt. Fuji. Oh well, I still have 11 months to see it before my one-year contract is up and I head back to Toronto.

After boarding a northbound shinkansen to Nasu-Shiobara, my only difficulty ensues when I arrive at my destination and can’t find the entrance to the local JR (Japan Rail) line that will take me south to Nishinasuno eki (station) where I have my bicycle.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad trip. I got sex. Always a bonus. Drunk. Another bonus. Saw a few sights – although I did get lost walking to Osaka-jo, so my streak is alive. It was mostly cold and cloudy or rainy during my trip, so my new-found ineptitude of rain and travel is also intact. And I got sex. Did I mention it more than once? I should have. If you’ll recall, it was my whole reason for coming to this country – as pathetic a reason as it may appear to some of you. I know, you guys are saying: “No, that’s not a pathetic excuse at all”. I’m just saying that because I have more female readers than men.

Anyhow… now that I’m back in Ohtawara and in my apartment, I call Ashley a few times. I’m guessing that sex is like sushi. Delicious, but you want more. She’s not in until 9:30, though and says she will see me tomorrow.

Now this is where I started all of these diary entries for you… so you are kind of up to date. Next: Andrew & Ashley break up! This time for sure! Part 1 of 47 different break-ups!

Somewhere wondering why I didn’t call up Kristine while I was in the area,
Andrew D’oh! Joseph

Today’s title brought to you by The Tubes – click HERE for an SCTV video of the group.
Did you know that SCTV alum Catherine O’Hara went to my high school? Dave Foley of Kids In The Hall, too. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Joker

"Some people  call me the Space Cowboy.
Some call me the Gangster of Love
Some people call me Gaijin, 
'Cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

People talk about me baby
Say I'm doin' you wrong, doin' you wrong
But don't you worry, baby, don't worry
'Cause' I'm right here, right here, right here, right here at home."


Why fight it? To quote Rodney Dangerfield in the movie 'Back To School': "I'm a lover not a fighter" - although I am going for a Taekwondo lesson again with my son later this afternoon.

Anyhow, I'm the lover of wordplay again, so I guess I'm back to being the Joker again.

According to the scientific poll I conducted this past week, people voted early and often, and all 7 of you have said they want their comedy before all else.

So, after I finish off my last day in Osaka, I will revert back to the funny business, rather than the monkey business - unless I can make said monkey business funny. Which I'm pretty sure I can do. I'll make Osaka funny rather than just a guilty horn-fest.

As mentioned, I just wanted to show you that despite all the fun and games, my head was often in an altogether different place. Beats me how I was able to write the funny stuff when I was in turmoil. Oh well, screw psychotherapy. You asked for comedy, you're gonna get comedy.

On with the show, this is it!

Somewhere on a couch talking to myself,
Andrew Joseph 

PS - I have no ideas what "pompatus" means, but it was invented by Steve Miller who probably smoked something wacky when he provided the musical accompaniment to this rambling episode.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Most Dangerous Sharks


The three most dangerous sharks are the great wite shark, the tiger shark,and the bull shark. The infamous great white shark attacked the most people becase it thought they where seals.
The tiger shark is the second in the most dangerous sharks. The reason it is called a tiger shark is cause of its stripes.
The bull shark is third in the most dangerous sharks. Also it is a fresh water shark.

Learn more from Discovery channel

50 Interesting Facts


1. If you are right handed, you will tend to chew your food on your right side. If you are left handed, you will tend to chew your food on your left side.

2. If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. For when a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.

Read more »

Interesting Facts II

1. Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.

2. Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush.

Read more »


1. If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.
(Hardly seems worth it)

2. If you fart consistently for 6 years and 9 months, enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.
Read more »

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Daydream Believer

Saturday, October 27, 1990  - the second day of my three day trip to the city of Osaka (aka Osaka-shi).

Getting up the next morning was a chore. Apparently there were no curtains in this Japanese-style hotel, so I was up at around 5AM when the sun rose.

Since I had had a shower the night before and it was wet when I went to sleep, my hair was doing weird things, and no amount of wetting it down could tame it.

I suppose I could have had a shower, but that would take effort, and I spent all of my effort last night into a condom. I really was spent.

I'm very vain about my hair. It's one of the few vanities I have that I will admit to. The other vanities I won't admit to.

Screw it... who's going to recognize me in this city? No one.
I sat around the room for awhile and thought about what I was going to do today. Not knowing what was in Osaka except for it's wonderful castle, I knew that had to be my ultimate destination.

I had lunch at a nearby McDonalds - I had a terriyaki burger - really.

I found a subway system, got on a train and departed four stops later and began walking in the direction of
Osaka castle. It was fairly obvious that I had taken the train in the opposite direction as I had just pas my hoyel from the previous night. Wrong Way Joseph nearly did it again. Actually, I did do it. Twice. But enough about last night.

After 30 minutes of walking, I hailed a taxi. He took me the one kilometre to the castle. The fair was 480 Yen for which I gave him 1000Yen telling him to keep the change as I got out of the car. To my chagrin he got out, chased me down, bowed so deep that I could see that he hadn't washed the nape of his neck in weeks and held out two hands with my exact change. Apparently they don't do tips here in Japan.

Osaka-jo (castle) was wonderful to look at from the outside, and I spent 4-1/2 hours exploring it and the surrounding grounds. It was my first ever castle - never even went to Casa Loma in Toronto. Is that a castle? Anyhow, click HERE for photos of Osaka-jo.

Sated, I went and found a pay phone and slipped in my VISA card and called Ashley. Needing an excuse to talk to her - I was on vacation, right? - I told her I was lost. I found out later that she told all of the other AETs in our prefecture (province). Damn. I was feeling very guilty. I had told her I was seeing this Japanese girl that was a friend of the family's friends... so I just wanted to hear her tell me not to do anything with Toshiko - like her telling me would mean I couldn't actually do it. Pathetic, ain't it?

And she did, in a playful joking manner - like love-struck Andrew would ever cheat on Ashley.

I found an International department store and bought some western-sized condoms - two more boxes... that should last me the year! I was either optimistic I would get to use them all or pessimistic that I wouldn't need more.

I had lunch at around 4:30 at what the Japanese call a famous American restaurant called Carls Jr. - which I later asked Matthew and Ashley about, but neither had heard of it. The food gave me the runs.

I meet up with Toshiko back at my hotel at 6:30 and go to dinner - Japanese style  - with two other couples. At 8:30 she says it's time for the two of us to leave as she wants to show me the sights down by South Osaka. Honestly, if I wasn't from Toronto, I might have been impressed, but it's just a big westernized city with zero personality.

We head out for more drinks - at a place called Kirin City. Kirin isa major manufacturer of beer - and is my favourite brand. I have three Kirin Dark draughts and some more food - I pay! Toshiko is already hammered after one beer, and on the way back to my hotel she keeps trying to grab my hand. I keep switching my shopping bag to different hands to confound her - and it seems to be working. Ashely said not to do anything with Toshiko, so now I'm listening. Aren't I a good boyfriend? I don't think so either.

I do give her a good night kiss when we get to my hotel but I tell her I'm tired and want to sleep. She's disappointed. I've disappointed a woman, but not for the usual reasons. It feeds my ego, which is starting to put on weight in this country.

Despite my exhaustion at carrying my heavy conscience around, I stay up and watch television. There's a weird show on with lots of big-breasted Japanese women on it (Do they really exist here??) One has her breasts painted by an artist - he's a professional, and does something Dali-esque. Next there's a sex demonstration with a lady showing a couple how to turn each other on by stroking each other's legs.
This is all in Japanese, but I'm guessing sex is an International language, because I swear I understood one of the men say: "The hell with this", and grabbed his wife and began sucking her toes.

Somewhere I am only able to watch this crappy television show for two hours.

Andrew Joseph
Today's title brought to you by The Monkees.

Google Asks: Isn't It Time You Talked To Your Kids About Google Buzz?

Of all the weird businesses Google (GOOG) has gotten itself into, producing Internet safety videos for kids on YouTube might be the weirdest.

Read more »

Facts about Bees

There are about 20,000 different species of bees in the world. Bees live in colonies and there are three types of bees in each colony. There is the queen bee, the worker bee and the drone. The worker bee and the queen bee are both female, but only the queen bee can reproduce. All drones are male. Worker bees clean the hive, collecting pollen and nectar to feed the colony and they take care of the offspring. The drone’s only job is to mate with the queen. The queen’s only job is to lay eggs.

Read more »

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sweet Cheater

Here's a story I owe you.

On Friday October 26, 1990 - to backtrack a few weeks, I decided I would visit Osaka - by myself.

Friends of my family said I should contact a Japanese girl they knew, who had visited them here in Toronto a couple of years previous.

Toshiko was her name. I had called her up and chatted with her and told her I would like to come to Osaka for a visit, and if she had time perhaps we could meet. She said she would love to see me again.

Now her English wasn't the best over the phone, but I was pretty sure I had not met any Japanese girls named Toshiko back home. It's not the kind of thing I was ever likely to misremeber. By the way, baseballer Roger Clemens got a lot of flack for using the word "misremember" - but it's a real word, so either he's a wordsmith, or he just got lucky.

I don't know how to pack for my three day trip, and my baggage is already heavy without me having bought anything. And this weather - rain, sunshine, warm, cold. I pack for all occasions.

I ride my bike to Nishinasuno-eki (train station) and ride the regular train north two stops to Nasu-Shiobara-eki. From there, I go upstairs and take a Skinkansen (bullet train). When it arrives, my first thought is an audible "wow". It looks like an airplane minus the wings.

I get on the smoking car - hack - is that my lungs I just spit out? I'm in an aisle seat so I don't see much of the country side. It's four seats to a row, divided by an aisle. It's a very smooth ride, but it doesn't seem all that fast to me. If that's 100 kilometers per hour then I have no concept of speed. We do have to make stops at Tochigi's capital city of Utsonomiya, it's southern most city - Oyama, and Omiya before the final stop of Ueno-eki in Tokyo. It takes one hour and five minutes - which is good for a 200 kilometer trip.

I ask a man there how much a ticket to the actual Tokyo train station is - and he tells me in perfect English  and take the three-stop regular subway train to Tokyo.

This place is like Grand Central Station in New York. Massive. I follow the excellent signage and board a Shinkansen headed west to Hiroshima. Oh... I bought a couple of sandwiches and Cokes at a store before getting on.

I'm nervous. Travel does that to me - especially when I'm by myself.

We stop at Nagoya, Kyoto (10 minutes from Kristine!) and finally Osaka after three hours. It's exactly on time. Always is, I hear. It's now 6:04 PM and I look around for Toshiko, but she's nowhere to be found.  I have a photo of her so that something. She said to meet her at an the exit. Which one? There's four of them! Twenty minutes later I hear over the PA system: "An-do-ryu Jo-se-fu... Tochigi-ken..." I guess I'm being paged. I head to an information booth and sure enough, there she is. She doesn't look like her photo, but is still very attractive. She seems quite pleased to see me, and kisses me full on the lips. Oh-kay.

She's about 5'-4", slight build, black hair to her shoulders - is 27 years old, and speaks enough English for it to be a struggle for us to understand each other - but I understand that she's really good-looking. She tries to take my bag - but can't quite lift it.

With the luggage in tow, we go to dinner - Japanese style on a beer garden roof and have a beer. She pays. Oh-kay. Next, we go to the top floor of a hotel and drink at the restaurant overlooking Osaka and its famous castle, Osaka-jo.

I have a White Russian and then a Strawberry Daquari - so does she! She's now bombed and is touching my body - until a male friend of hers comes and joins us. We meet some more friends of hers and have afew drinks. I'm tipsy - but these guys are lightweights and are completely hammered.

Anyhow, after they leave, she says she will take me to a hotel she arranged for me. On the way down from the restaurant she kisses me hard on the lips - which I return. She grabs my hand and swings our arms while singing: "Happy Mistake!" in English.

Y'see, the family friends mistakenly told her that the person coming to visit was named Ben, and was 19. That would be my brother. She was very happy I wasn't 19.

Anyhow, after escorting me to a Japanese-style hotel - that means a futon on tatami (grass) mats - she comes in and well, let's cut to the chase and say I added a second notch.

Japan is awesome. A guy could get used to this.

Anyhow, she says she has to go home because her boyfriend will be calling soon - apparently that was the first guy to have joined us for a drink. Oh-kay.

I have a shower and get to bed, but stay awake for awhile. Although Ashley and I had a fight a day earlier, we hadn't really broken up (in my mind), though it sure felt that way, and I was feeling quite guilty over what had happened. No, really. A man feeling guilt over sleeping with a woman.

Somewhere wondering what I'm going to do tomorrow,  
Andrew Joseph 
PS - bottom photo: This photos shows off  Japan's infatuation with white cars quite nicely.

Today's song by Ratt. I know... I have strange taste in Rock and Roll. I was going to use Lucky Man by Emerson, Lake & Palmer... but the title I chose could refer to more than one cheater.

Friday, April 2, 2010


Thursday, November 15, 1990

I'm up at 6:30AM. It seems like it's going to be one of those days. At 7:15, I notice one of my goldfish swimming outside my tank. He's lucky and I toss him back in. Stupid suicidal fish. I've had fish since I was 4, and don't ever recall a goldfish jumping out of the aquarium.

Next, after having a shower, I'm unable to turn off the hot water heater. After struggling for 10 minutes, it turns off.

Tomura-sensei of Wakakusa Junior High School comes by at 7:30 after I shovel in two spoonfuls of corn flakes. I go to school hungry.

Perhaps I should have just stayed in bed. I'm still grouchy over last night. I keep mulling over my question to Ashley two nights ago: "Do you trust me?" "Yes," she said. I'm not so sure, though. Last night I said to her that I was in love with her. She never said it back. It hurt. A lot. I'm pretty sure I don't want a relationship with someone incapable of loving me. Something to dwell on, to be sure.

Classes at Wakakusa go smoothly with Mrs. Onuma - what a cutie! The last class of the day is a team-teaching demonstration between us in front of eight teachers - all from Wakakusa but from different class subjects. It goes well.

At 4:30, I'm driven home by Tomura-sensei - he tells me the students aren't allowed to leave school while there is still some light out. We discussed the major differences between Western and Japanese schools - maybe I should make a document (Or at least tell you in this blog what those differences are!)

I go home and read a letter from Kristine. I like her innuendos, which is too obvious a joke for me to do about breasts. Anyhow, unless I'm reading the letter wrong, she's more or less suggesting I visit her because she's 10 minutes from Kyoto, a city famous for its 400 year old temples. I'm pretty sure that the temples aren't going to be my primary reason to visit. Something to really think about. The innuendo! The innuendo!

I go to Iseya department/grocery store (after first seeing if Matthew is home - he's not), and purchase food. Again. I also pick up a copy of a picture and some dry cleaning. The clothes smell good.

I sit in my messy apartment listening to the metal-rap take my brother Ben sent me. Red Hot Chili Peppers and EMF. Me like. It's all new to me.

As I'm eating, Matthew comes over. we watch the TV video tapes Ben sent over - there's a lot of Tiny Toons, which is sugary but watchable. There's also Cheers, Simpsons, In Living Color, Kids In The Hall (I didn't realize it at the time, but Dave Foley and I were in Grade 9 together, and were friends).

Matthew leaves at 8:30, I do a serious clean-up of the place and do some laundry. I talk to Tim Mould. Like myself, Tim has been asked to speak at an AET conference in Saitama prefecture (essentially next door to Tochigi-ken). Because I tend to get lost when I travel in this stupid country, I ask if I can travel with him as we leave a day earlier than the non-speaking AETs (Assistant English Teachers) like Matthew and Ashley.

I'm supposed to speak about Team-Teaching at this Nov. 27-30 conference. I don't team-teach. I either give self-introductions or pretend I'm a tape recorder and have students repeat after me. This speech is going to be a killer. I only did it because Catherine (Gasoline) called me up and asked me to.

You know what's even more weird? On the evening that Catherine called me to ask if I'd do her ... a huge favor, the next morning my OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) office apparently knew all about it.
My apartment is finally clean. My mind... it's confused and very tired, and I hit the hay early at 11:30.

Despite the crappy beginning, the day was good. Actually... things seem to have worked out... now can I keep it going? Can I go and visit Kristine while keeping Ashley ignorant of that fact? Maybe I need to break up with her for a weekend or more. Again. It worked once before. (Okay... the next blog will reveal woman #2 and a trip to Osaka).

Somewhere, it seems unbelievable that my apartment is cleaner than my thoughts,
Andrew Joseph

Today's title from EMF

Binary Neutron Stars

When a large star gets old, it explodes, instantly releasing as much energy as the Sun outputs in ten billion years. This is called a supernova, which is Latin for "Wow, no really, wow."

After the explosion, what's left at the center is a neutron star, which is an extremely dense object with just slightly more mass than our own Sun, crammed into a space the size of New Orleans. A neutron star is so dense that a teaspoonful of one would weigh as much as ten million Oprahs.
Read more »

Three Horizons

If you're standing on the edge of the beach, the ocean looks enormous, as if it stretches off forever. However, because of the Earth's curvature, the horizon is only three miles away (a little farther, if you're wearing platform shoes, or stilts and a clown costume). You can really only see a very small amount of the ocean. The Pacific Ocean, for example, is roughly nine thousand miles across.
Read more »


Usually when you see a picture of our solar system's planets, they look something like this:
Now obviously, the relative sizes of the planets are all wrong, and they should be much, much farther apart. And, if you're using an Apple computer, each planet should be themed with a shiny, candy-like coating. But one other important aspect of the picture is not scientifically accurate. The planets shouldn't all have the same brightness.
As you get farther away from the Sun, its light becomes progressively dimmer. I corrected the brightness of the planets in the picture, taking the distance to the Sun into account, and here's what I got:
Even though Venus is farther away from the Sun than Mercury, it actually appears brighter, because the clouds of its thick atmosphere reflect six times as much light as Mercury's dark Moon-like surface.

But aside from that, the Sun's brightness falls off really fast as you move away from it. This is because the intensity of the Sun's light is proportional to the inverse of the square of its distance. So, if you're four times farther away from the Sun than Earth is, the Sun will appear sixteen times darker than it would on Earth. Also, the planets are spaced farther and farther apart as you move out in the solar system.
The upshot of all this is, if you were living on a moon of Saturn, you'd have a pretty big heating bill, because that far from the Sun, the temperature would be roughly two hundred degrees below zero in the daytime. Because there are no plants, the atmosphere wouldn't have any oxygen in it. Plus, the commute would suck and the schools wouldn't be very good. On the other hand, you wouldn't have to worry about mowing the lawn, you wouldn't need sunscreen, and you wouldn't have to listen to your neighbor's barking dog all night, because if they let it run around outside, it wouldn't have anything to breathe as it was freezing to death.
Now, it's true that if you really were out there orbiting Saturn, you'd still be able to see easily, because your eyes would adjust to the fact that the Sun would only appear one percent as bright as it would near Earth. This is more than enough light to see by. It'd probably be a lot brighter than the light bulbs inside your house at night. But it wouldn't have quite the same punch as a nice sunny day on Earth.
It's important to note that your eyes are capable of perceiving a huge range of brightnesses. The full Moon is half a million times dimmer than the Sun, and it still provides just enough illumination to see by if you're stumbling around in the wilderness at night, being chased by government agents because you've just escaped from the secret laboratory where you were grown in a vat. (I am not speaking from personal experience.) So, you wouldn't have that much trouble getting around near Saturn, even if the sunlight was rather dim.
How is it that NASA's pictures don't come out all black? Space probes orbiting the more distant planets simply leave the camera's shutter open longer to collect more light, brightening up the picture. This is just what a handheld camera does automatically when you use it inside your house.
Below, on the left, is a picture of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan, taken by the Huygens probe in 2005. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a substantial atmosphere. On the right, I've corrected the image to account for the intensity of the Sun at that distance, relative to the sunlight on Earth. I'm not kidding here. This is really how much darker it would be. Eventually your eyes would adapt, and you'd see something, but it would be a lot dimmer than Earth during the daytime.

The farther you get from the Sun, the smaller it appears in the sky. The picture on the left, below, is a sunset on Earth, and the picture on the right is a sunset on Mars, taken by the Spirit rover. I've scaled the images so that the Sun from Mars is two thirds the size of the Sun from Earth, which is how it really would appear. The sunset on Mars is usually blue because of dust in the atmosphere.
I like looking at the Martian sunset picture and imagining how cold it is there. The fact that the Sun would be a little smaller and dimmer and more blue would make Mars seem extra chilly and desolate and not worth visiting.
We're pretty lucky that we live on one of the better planets that's huddling closely around the warmth of our star. Consequently, most of the surface of our planet is often nice and toasty and warm and dry, except of course for the England part of our planet. If you live there, it might seem rather unpleasant, but fortunately, science has demonstrated that it could be much, much worse. You could be living on Titan, freezing in the dark, in a puddle of liquid methane, next to somebody's dead poodle.


Elephant Teeth

Most mammals have a set of baby teeth that eventually fall out and are replaced by adult teeth, which they keep for their entire lives. Elephants are different, however. They go through six sets of large, brick-like teeth that grow in at the back of their mouths and slowly move to the front as they are worn down. The teeth then fall out and are replaced by fresh ones.
Consequently, elephants have no use for dentists, and have been known to laugh openly when they encounter dental hygienists on safari. There is evidence of elephants in the wild eating five hundred pounds of coconut macaroons in one day, without flossing.
Each set of elephant teeth that grows in is larger than the last. The final teeth are over eight inches long (21 cm) from front to back and weigh more than eight pounds (4 kg).
When an elephant's final set of teeth falls out, the elephant slowly dies of malnutrition or starvation. This is a pretty poorly designed animal, if you ask me.
Old elephants will seek out wet, marshy areas where the plants are softer, so they can more easily eat them. However, in the end, this doesn't really help and they die anyway, much to the amusement of vacationing dental hygienists.


What are trees made out of? If you had asked me yesterday, I would have guessed that trees absorb raw materials from the ground through their roots, and use them to build new branches and roots as the tree grows. Or, perhaps trees are constructed by hardworking but underpaid gnomes and fairies during the night.
As it happens, that's not the case. Although roots take up a small amount of important nutrients, the majority of the mass of a tree is created from carbon dioxide absorbed from the air by the tree's leaves. That's right. It sounds crazy, but trees are mostly made out of air, and fairies aren't even involved.
When you burn wood, you're just dumping all that carbon dioxide back into the air where it originally came from. Don't do that. It annoys the fairies.


Homeobox Genes

OK this is totally crazy. All animals have a set of genes (sequences of atoms in their DNA) that regulate how they develop from a miniscule single cell to their final enormous multicellular form. But, the super amazing thing is, those genes are all the same. For every animal. Of every species. They're the same exact genes in whales and people and tax accountants and leeches. These genes are called homeobox genes. ("Homeo" from the Greek word for "same", and "box" from the Greek word for "cardboard box".)
Some of these genes encode for high level structures, like "make an eye here". The actual details of how to make the specific kind of eye are encoded elsewhere in the DNA. However, you can take the high level "make an eye" gene out of a mouse, and splice it into the middle of a fly's genes that control how its legs grow, and the fly will wind up with a semifunctional fly's eye on its knees. Scientists have actually performed this experiment. The flies were not amused.
All of this implies that flies and mice share a common ancestor. Scientists have recently determined that this ancestor is named Steve and lives in rural New Hampshire with his parents and it's about time he moved out and got a job.
Curiously, plants and animals do not share the same set of homeobox genes. This suggests that the homeobox genes evolved separately in plants and animals. I say we patent the concept of homeobox genes and then sue the plants for all they've got.


Moon Facts

The tidal forces of the Moon (and the Sun) don't only act on the oceans, they act on the land as well. If you stand on the equator, the land beneath you will go up and down by as much as 21 inches (55 centimeters) over the course of a day. You won't notice this though, because you will be drinking too much tequila.
Since the same side of the Moon always faces the Earth, each lunar day lasts a whole Earth month. Consequently, anybody could outrun the setting Sun on a bicyle. Well, maybe you could. I am old and fat.
When the Moon was created, it was a lot closer to the Earth, and appeared ten times larger in the sky. Each year, the Moon moves 4 centimeters away from the Earth. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe we smell bad and it doesn't want to be

Facebook Song

Rhett And Link
Facebook Song lyrics

You can watch this video on Youtube

I wouldn't call myself a social butterfly
And there's not much that separates me from the other guy
But when I login I begin to live

There's an online world where I am king
Of a little website dedicated to me
With pictures of me and a list of my friends
And an unofficial record of the groups that I'm in.

Before the internet friendship was so tough
You actually had to be in peoples presence and stuff
Who wouldve thought that with a point and a click
I could know that Hope Floats is your favorite flick (harry connick jr.?)

Facebook (Facebook)
I'm Hooked on Facebook
I used to meet girls hangin out at the mall, now I just wait for them to write on my wall.
(Its more than a want, it's more than a need; I'd schrivel up and die without my minifeed)
Take a look. (Youre Hooked) on facebook.

Oh Link's status changed. it says he's playing the recorder...

How do you know this person?
Did you hook up with this person?
Do you need to request confirmation?
Or did you just think they looked cute... from their picture on facebook?

If the internet crashed all across the land
Or my facebook account was deleted by the man
I'd carry around a picture of my face
And a summary of me typed out on a page

Top 20 Amazing Science Facts

Another trivia list! This list explores a variety of fascinating scientific
facts that you probably are unaware of. Science is still a very mysterious
subject so there are millions of trivial facts about it – this will be the first
of many scientific fact lists in the future.

Facts 1 – 5


1. There are 62,000 miles of blood vessels in the human body – laid end to
end they would circle the earth 2.5 times
2. At over 2000 kilometers long The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living
structure on Earth
3. The risk of being struck by a falling meteorite for a human is one
occurrence every 9,300 years
4. A thimbleful of a neutron star would weigh
over 100 million tons
5. A typical hurricane produces the energy equivalent to 8,000 one megaton

Facts 6 – 10

Pine Tree Med

6. Blood sucking hookworms inhabit 700 million people worldwide
7. The highest speed ever achieved on a bicycle is 166.94 mph by Fred
8. We can produce laser light a million times brighter than sunshine
9. 65% of those with autism are left handed
10. The combined length of the roots of a Finnish pine tree is over 30 miles.

Facts 11 – 15


11. The oceans contain enough salt to cover all the continents to a depth of
nearly 500 feet
12. The interstellar gas cloud Sagittarius B contains a billion, billion,
billion liters of alcohol [JFrater is planning to move there in the near future]
13. Polar Bears can run at 25 miles an hour and jump over 6 feet in the air
14. 60-65 million years ago dolphins and humans shared a common ancestor
15. Polar Bears are nearly undetectable by infrared cameras, due to their
transparent fur.

Facts 16 – 20

Mercury Tour

16. The average person accidentally eats 430 bugs each year of their life
17. A single rye plant can spread up to 400 miles of roots underground
18. The temperature on the surface of Mercury exceeds 430 degrees C during
the day, and, at night, plummets to minus 180 degrees centigrade
19. The evaporation from a large oak or beech tree is from ten to twenty-five
gallons in twenty-four hours
20. Butterflies taste with their hind feet and their taste sensation works on
touch – this allows them to determine whether a leaf is edible

The Sun

If you add up all of the mass in the solar system, including the planets, the moons, the asteroids, the comets, the dust, Oprah, and everything else, it turns out that 99.85% of everything is the Sun.
The picture you have in your head of the solar system as the sun surrounded by several chunky planets isn't accurate.
The solar system consists almost entirely of the Sun.
Sure, there's also a small bit of schmutz that happens to slowly orbit around the Sun, and it seems important to us, and this is where we do our shopping. You probably live on one of the smaller, damper, Starbucks-infested specks. But, this is all pretty insignificant compared to the overwhelming enormity of the Sun.
I bought a house recently, and I'm hoping that by disseminating this information, it'll help drive up property values by several orders of magnitude.


If you were to live deep inside a cave, with no exposure to the
outside world, eventually you would start sleeping roughly every 24
hours and 18 minutes, instead of exactly every 24 hours.

Under normal circumstances, our eyes sense light from the Sun, and
our brains adjust to the standard 24 hour day, but we'd really always
like to sleep that extra 18 minutes. Why is that? Scientists don't
really know, but maybe it explains why everyone is so crabby all the

Some completely blind people, who sense no light at all, naturally
live on a 24 hour, 18 minute day, and slowly march their schedule around
the clock, out of phase with everybody else. I'm speaking from personal
experience when I say that it's pretty annoying when you have a blind
neighbor who mows his lawn in the middle of the night.

Our built-in tendency to live on a 24 hour, 18 minute day might seem
to make sense if that was how long days were in the distant past, and
the length of each day has been slowly speeding up. However, exactly the
opposite is occurring. The length of each day has been gradually
increasing, as the rotation of the Earth slows down because of the
Moon's tidal forces. Half a billion years ago, days were 22 hours long.
Four and a half billion years ago, they were six hours long. This didn't
allow for a lot of variety in the television programming schedule.

A need for a longer day might also make sense if we were all from
Mars. (We're not. Most of us are not. Let's just say that all the
important people you know are not. If you don't already know that you
are, you're not. It's best if you don't bring this up with your parents.
Forget I mentioned any of this.) On Mars, each day is 24 hours and 39
minutes long. Scientists working on the Spirit and Opportunity Mars
rover projects initially lived on a schedule based on Mars days, because
the solar-powered rovers could only operate during daytime on Mars. The
scientists wore special Mars watches so they'd know what time it was
there. After a few months of this, and always sleeping weird hours, they
were all pretty grumpy. Eventually they switched to a more practical,
Earth-based schedule.

Sleeping in one continuous block during the night is an extremely
recent development. Humans only started doing this when artificial
lighting become readily available, and it was easier for everybody to
stay up late. Before that, people tended to sleep in multiple chunks
throughout the night, separated by periods of activity. Presumably, they
would use this time to make trips to the ice box or watch crude
infomercials performed by nocturnal travelling minstrels, which were
quite popular during the Renaissance.

Did you know

Did you know??
  • Did you know that there are 206 bones in the adult human body and there are 300 in children (as they grow some of the bones fuse together).
  • Flea's can jump 130 times higher than their own height. In human terms this is equal to a 6ft. person jumping 780 ft. into the air.
  • The most dangerous animal in the world is the common housefly. Because of their habits of visiting animal waste, they transmit more diseases than any other animal.
  • Snakes are true carnivorous because they eat nothing but other animals. They do not eat any type of plant material.
  • The world's largest amphibian is the giant salamander. It can grow up to 5 ft. in length.
  • 100 years ago: The first virus was found in both plants and animals.
  • 90 years ago: The Grand Canyon became a national monument & Cellophane is invented.
  • 80 years ago: The food mixer and the domestic refrigerator were invented.
  • 70 years ago: The teletype and PVC (polyvinyl-chloride) were invented.
  • 60 years ago: Otto Hahn discovered nuclear fission by splitting uranium, Teflon was invented.
  • 50 years ago: Velcro was invented.
  • 40 years ago: An all-female population of lizards was discovered in Armenia.
  • 30 years ago: The computer mouse was invented.
  • 20 years ago: First test-tube baby born in England, Pluto’s moon, Charon, discovered.
  • 10 years ago: First patent for a genetically-engineered mouse was issued to Harvard Medical School.
  • 5 years ago: The first successful cloning of human embryo
  • The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes or stirrup bone located in the middle ear. It is approximately .11 inches (.28 cm) long.
  • The longest cells in the human body are the motor neurons. They can be up to 4.5 feet (1.37 meters) long and run from the lower spinal cord to the big toe.
  • There are no poisonous snakes in Maine.
  • The blue whale can produce sounds up to 188 decibels. This is the loudest sound produced by a living animal and has been detected as far away as 530 miles.
  • The largest man-made lake in the U.S. is Lake Mead, created by Hoover Dam.
  • The poison arrow frogs of South and Central America are the most poisonous animals in the world.
  • A new born blue whale measures 20-26 feet (6.0 - 7.9 meters) long and weighs up to 6,614 pounds (3003 kg).
  • The first coast-to-coast telephone line was established in 1914.
  • The Virginia opossum has a gestation period of only 12-13 days.
  • The Stegosaurus dinosaur measured up to 30 feet (9.1 meters) long but had a brain the size of a walnut.
  • The largest meteorite crater in the world is in Winslow, Arizona. It is 4,150 feet across and 150 feet deep.
  • The human eye blinks an average of 4,200,000 times a year.
  • Skylab, the first American space station, fell to the earth in thousands of pieces in 1979. Thankfully most over the ocean.
  •  It takes approximately 12 hours for food to entirely digest.
  • Human jaw muscles can generate a force of 200 pounds (90.8 kilograms) on the molars.
  • The Skylab astronauts grew 1.5 - 2.25 inches (3.8 - 5.7 centimeters) due to spinal lengthening and straightening as a result of zero gravity.
  • An inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain water is equivalent to 15 inches (38.1 centimeters) of dry, powdery snow.
  • Tremendous erosion at the base of Niagara Falls (USA) undermines the shale cliffs and as a result the falls have receded approximately 7 miles over the last 10,000 years.
  • 40 to 50 percent of body heat can be lost through the head (no hat) as a result of its extensive circulatory network.
  • A large swarm of desert locusts (Schistocerca gregaria) can consume 20,000 tons (18,160,000 kilograms) of vegetation a day.
  • The largest telescope in the world is currently being constructed in northern Chile. The telescope will utilize four - 26 ft. 8 in. (8.13 meters) mirrors which will gather as much light as a single 52 ft. 6 in. (16 meters) mirror.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope weighs 12 tons (10,896 kilograms), is 43 feet (13.1 meters) long, and cost $2.1 billion to originally build.
  • The longest living cells in the body are brain cells which can live an entire lifetime.
  •  The largest flying animal was the pterosaur which lived 70 million years ago. This reptile had a wing span of 36-39 feet (11-11.9 meters) and weighed 190-250 pounds (86-113.5 kilograms).
  • The Atlantic Giant Squid's eye can be as large as 15.75 inches (40 centimeters) wide.
  • Armadillos, opossums, and sloth's spend about 80% of their lives sleeping.
  • The starfish species, Porcellanaster ivanovi, has been found to live in water as deep as 24,881 feet (7,584 meters).
  • The tentacles of the giant Arctic jellyfish can reach 120 feet (36.6 meters) in length.
  • The greatest tide change on earth occurs in the Bay of Fundy. The difference between low tide and high tide can be as great as 54 ft. 6 in. (16.6 meters).
  • The highest temperature produced in a laboratory was 920,000,000 F (511,000,000 C) at the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor in Princeton, NJ, USA.
  • The most powerful laser in the world, the Nova laser at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA, USA, generates a pulse of energy equal to 100,000,000,000,000 watts of power for .000000001 second to a target the size of a grain of sand.
  • The fastest computer in the world is the CRAY Y-MP C90 supercomputer. It has two gigabytes of central memory and 16 parallel central processor units.
  • The heaviest human brain ever recorded weighed 5 lb. 1.1 oz. (2.3 kg.).
  • The deepest part of the ocean is 35,813 feet (10,916 meters) deep and occurs in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. At that depth the pressure is 18,000 pounds (9172 kilograms) per square inch.
  • The largest cave in the world (the Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia) is 2,300 feet (701 meters) long, 980 feet (299 meters) wide, and more than 230 feet (70 meters) high.
  • The hottest planet in the solar system is Venus, with an estimated surface temperature of 864 F (462 C).
  • The ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.
  • The first electronic digital computer (called ENIAC - the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator) was developed in 1946 and contained over 18,000 vacuum tubes.
  • The leg muscles of a locust are about 1000 times more powerful than an equal weight of human muscle.
  • The cosmos contains approximately 50,000,000,000 galaxies.
  • There are between 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars in a normal galaxy.
  • Sound travels about 4 times faster in water than in air.
  • Scientists have discovered that copper pollution of the atmosphere occurred about 2500 years ago. This was discovered by analyzing ice cores from Greenland. The pollution was attributed to the Romans who used copper for military purposes and to produce coins.
  • Hydrofluoric acid will dissolve glass.
  • In a full grown rye plant, the total length of roots may reach 380 miles (613 km).
  • In a full grown rye plant, the total length of fine root hairs may reach 6600 miles (10,645 km).
  • A large sunspot can last for about a week.
  • If you could throw a snowball fast enough, it would totally vaporize when it hit a brick wall.
  • Boron nitride (BN) is the second hardest substance known to man.
  • The female Tarantula Hawk wasp paralyzes a large spider with her sting. She then lays her eggs on the motionless body so that her developing young have a fresh supply of spider meat to feed on.
  • The seeds of an Indian Lotus tree remain viable for 300 to 400 years.
  • The only letter not appearing on the Periodic Table is the letter “J”.
  • Velcro was invented by a Swiss guy who was inspired by the way burrs attached to clothing.
  • Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
  • October 10 is National Metric Day.
  • If you stretch a standard Slinky out flat it measures 87 feet long.
  • The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
  • Super Glue was invented by accident. The researcher was trying to make optical coating materials, and would test their properties by putting them between two prisms and shining light through them. When he tried the cyano-acrylate, he couldn't get the prisms apart.
  • No matter its size or thickness, no piece of paper can be folded in half more than 7 times.
  • A car traveling at 80 km/h uses half its fuel to overcome wind resistance.
  • Knowledge is growing so fast that ninety per cent of what we will know in fifty years time, will be discovered in those fifty years.
  • According to an old English system of time units, a moment is one and a half minutes.
  • The typewriter was invented in 1829, and the automatic dishwasher in 1889.
  • The wristwatch was invented in 1904 by Louis Cartier.
  • When glass breaks, the cracks move at speeds of up to 3,000 miles per hour.
  • By raising your legs slowly and laying on your back, you can't sink in quicksand.
  • Ten minutes of one hurricane contains enough energy to match the nuclear stockpiles of the world.
  • Most gemstones contain several elements. The exception? The diamond. It's all carbon.
  • Diamonds are the hardest substance known to man.
  • Which of the 50 states has never had an earthquake? North Dakota.
  • When hydrogen burns in the air, water is formed.
  • Sterling silver contains 7.5% copper.
  • Cars were first made with ignition keys in 1949.
  • J.B Dunlop was first to put air into tires.
  • Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, also set a world water-speed record of over seventy miles an hour at the age of seventy two.
  • It is energy-efficient to turn off a fluorescent light only if it will not be used again within an hour or more. This is because of the high voltage needed to turn it on, and the shortened life this high voltage causes.
  • The Earth's equatorial circumference (40,075 km) is greater than its polar circumference (40,008 km).
  • Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world.
  • Due to gravitational effects, you weigh slightly less when the moon is directly overhead.
  • The Earth's average velocity orbiting the sun is 107,220 km per hour.
  • There is a high and low tide because of our moon and the Sun.
  • The United States consumes 25% of all the world’s energy.
  • Flying from London to New York by Concord, due to the time zones crossed, you can arrive 2 hours before you leave.
  • There is enough fuel in a full tank of a Jumbo Jet to drive an average car four times around the world.
  • The surface speed record on the moon is 10.56 miles per hour. It was set with the lunar rover.
  • If you could drive to the sun -- at 55 miles per hour -- it would take about 193 years
  • The moon is one million times drier than the Gobi Desert.
  • Just twenty seconds worth of fuel remained when Apollo 11's lunar module landed on the moon.
  • A Boeing 707 uses four thousand gallons of fuel in its take-off climb.
  • The planet Saturn has a density lower than water. So, if placed in water it would float.
  • Since 1959, more than 6,000 pieces of 'space junk' (abandoned rocket and satellite parts) have fallen out of orbit - many of these have hit the earth's surface.
  • It takes 70% less energy to produce a ton of paper from recycled paper than from trees.
  • Every year in the US, 625 people are struck by lightning.
  • Hawaii is moving toward Japan 4 inches every year.
  • The rocket engine has to supply its own oxygen so it can burn its fuel in outer space.
  • The North Atlantic gets 1 inch wider every year.
  • Oxygen is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, waters, and atmosphere (about 49.5%)
  • A stroke of lightning discharges from 10 to 100 million volts & 30,000 amperes of electricity.
  • A bolt of lightning is about 54,000°F (30,000°C); six times hotter than the Sun.
  • Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe (75%).
  • The average distance between the Earth & the Moon is 238,857 miles (384,392 km). 
  • The moon is 27% the size of the Earth.
  • The Earth weighs 6.6 sextillion tons, or 5.97 x 1024 kg.
  • The center of the Sun is about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million °C).
  • Sunlight takes about 8 minutes & 20 seconds to reach the Earth at 186,282 miles/sec (299,792 Km/sec).
  • The highest temperature on Earth was 136°F (58°C) in Libya in 1922.
  • The lowest temperature on Earth was -128.6°F (-89.6°C) in Antarctica in 1983.
  • Sunlight can penetrate clean ocean water to a depth of 240 feet.
  • The average ocean floor is 12,000 feet.
  • The temperature can be determined by counting the number of cricket chirps in fourteen seconds and adding 40.
  • House flies have a lifespan of two weeks.
  • Chimps are the only animals that can recognize themselves in a mirror.
  • Starfish don't have brains.
  • The average person falls asleep in seven minutes.
  • Shrimp's hearts are in their heads.
  • Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.
  • The longest recorded flight of a chicken is thirteen seconds
  • Emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards.
  • Cats have over one hundred vocal sounds, while dogs only have about ten. 
  • Porcupines float in water.
  • An ostrich's eye is bigger that its brain. 
  • An iguana can stay under water for twenty-eight minutes.
  • The common goldfish is the only animal that can see both infra-red and ultra-violet light.
  • It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.
  • The pupil of an octopus' eye is rectangular.
  • Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing.
  • The leg bones of a bat are so thin that no bat can walk.
  • Ants cannot chew their food, they move their jaws sideways, like scissors, to extract the juices from the food.
  • Hummingbirds are the only animals able to fly backwards.
  • A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
  • Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
  • A cat's jaws cannot move sideways.
  • Armadillos get an average of 18.5 hours of sleep per day.
  • Armadillos can walk underwater.
  • There are more beetles than any other kind of creature in the world.
  • Certain frogs that can survive the experience of being frozen. 
  • Only humans sleep on their backs.
  • The human brain is 80% water.
  • Everyone's tongue print is different.
  • As an adult, you have more than 20 square feet of skin on your body--about the same square footage as a blanket for a queen-sized bed.
  • In your lifetime, you'll shed over 40 pounds of skin.
  • 15 million blood cells are produced and destroyed in the human body every second.
  • Every minute, 30-40,000 dead skin cells fall from your body.
  • The brain uses more than 25% of the oxygen used by the human body.
  • If your mouth was completely dry, you would not be able to distinguish the taste of anything.
  • There are more living organisms on the skin of a single human being than there are human beings on the surface of the earth.
  • Muscles are made up of bundles from about 5 in the eyelid to about 200 in the buttock muscle.
  • Muscles in the human body (640 in total) make up about half of the body weight.
  • The human body has enough fat to produce 7 bars of soap.
  • The human head is a quarter of our total length at birth, but only an eighth of our total length by the time we reach adulthood.
  • Most people blink about 17,000 times a day.
  • Moths have no stomach.
  • Hummingbirds can't walk.
  • Sea otters have 2 coats of fur.
  • A starfish can turn its stomach inside out.
  • A zebra is white with black stripes.
  • The animal with the largest brain in relation to its body is the ant.
  • The largest eggs in the world are laid by a shark.
  • A crocodile’s tongue is attached to the roof of its mouth.
  • Crocodiles swallow stones to help them dive deeper.
  • Giraffes are unable to cough.
  • Sharks are immune to cancer.
  • Despite the hump, a camel’s spine is straight.
  • Cheetah's can accelerate from 0 to 70 km/h in 3 seconds.
  • A giraffe's neck contains the same number of vertebrae as a human.
  • The heart of giraffe is two feet long, and can weigh as much as twenty four pounds.
  • On average, Elephants sleep for about 2 hours per day.
  • Lobsters have blue blood.
  • Shark's teeth are literally as hard as steel.
  • A mosquito has 47 teeth.
  • Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen make up 90% of the human body.
  • Seventy percent of the dust in your home consists of shed human skin
  • Fish are the only vertebrates that outnumber birds.
  • A cockroach can live for several weeks without its head.
  • The average human produces a quart of saliva a day -- about 10,000 gallons in a lifetime
  • Elephants have been known to remain standing after they die.
  • The embryos of tiger sharks fight each other while in their mother's womb, the survivor being the baby shark that is born.
  • Ants do not sleep.
  • Nearly a third of all bottled drinking water purchased in the US is contaminated with bacteria.
  • Rats multiply so quickly that in 18 months, two rats could have over 1 million descendents.
  • An Astronaut can be up to 2 inches taller returning from space. The cartilage disks in the spine expand in the absence of gravity.
  • The oldest known fossil is of a single-celled organism, blue-green algae, found in 3.2 billion year-old stones in South Africa.
  • The oldest multicellular fossils date from ~700 million years ago.
  • The earliest cockroach fossils are about 280 million years old.
  • Healthy nails grow about 2 cm each year. Fingernails grow four times as fast as toenails.
  • 20/20 vision means the eye can see normally at 20 feet. 20/15 is better; the eye can see at 20 feet what another eye sees at 15 feet.
  • The average person has 100,000 hairs on his/her head. Each hair grows about 5 inches (12.7 cm) every year.
  • There are 60,000 miles (97,000 km) in blood vessels in every human.
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