Petroushka\’s Miscellany

Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Listed category.

A List of Important Things That Everyone Should Know

It has been a while since I wrote anything, but I was thinking the other day that all schoolchildren ought to be taught certain Important Facts that will help them throughout their lives. And I thought a good place to begin a List of Important Things That Everyone Should Know would be here. So here goes:

  • what to do to avoid being struck by lightning (i.e., where’s the safest place to be if caught in a thunderstorm while walking in a park? (a) a covered gazebo; (b) the lawn; (c) under a tree; (d) in the fountain. If you guessed (a) you’re wrong—someone I know was just struck by lightning in exactly this situation. I don’t know the answer though. Check back later.)
  • what to do in case of various kinds of fires (i.e., cooking, electrical, gasoline, arson)
  • why the sky is blue
  • basic first aid
  • which pills should never be taken with alcohol

That’s all for now. I will add more as they come to me. And then begin to find the answers (and include them in later posts).


100 Things You Didn’t Know Last Year

I love the BBC. This is one of the reasons why. They have brought together a list of fun facts you should know, and probably don’t. My top 10:

  1. When faced with danger, the octopus can wrap six of its legs around its head to disguise itself as a coconut shell and walk slowly backwards to escape from danger. (Note: I didn’t know there were enough coconut shells at the bottom of the sea to make coconut shell camouflage a viable life-saving alternative. It just goes to show: you learn something new every day.)
  2. Baboons can tell the difference between English and French.
  3. Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people in 1918-1919, was called French flu by the Spanish. (Can baboons tell the difference?)
  4. Every winter, regular flu (not the bird kind) kills about 12,000 people in the UK.
  5. Rubber gloves could save you from lightning (so wear them always, just in case—don’t worry, there are stylish ones too, with red cherries on, to go with all your favourite outfits).
  6. Tactically, the best Monopoly properties to buy are the orange ones.
  7. The title of Oliver Twist in Chinese is Foggy City Orphan.
  8. 1 in 18 people has a third nipple.
  9. Putting a towel on a sun lounger at a five star hotel (for example) doesn’t give you any legal rights to the use of that sun lounger.
  10. The Japanese have a word that means “I wish there were more designer stores on this street”. In case you’re ever in Japan, the word is chokuegambo. You can use it if you don’t find any stylish rubber glove stores.

Read the rest of the list on the BBC news website.

Fun flag facts

The Maple Leaf

The Great Canadian Flag Debate began on 15 June 1964, when the Prime Minister announced his plans for a new flag. Since 1867, when Canada officially became a country, it had flown either the union jack or a Canadian variant thereof. But a 1958 poll found that 80% of Canadians wanted a flag of their own, and 60% of them wanted it to have a maple leaf.

3,541 Canadians submitted designs for the new flag, most of them red, white, and blue. 2,136 of the flag designs included maple leaves; 408 had Union Jacks; 389 had beavers; 359 had fleurs de lys.

The red and white Maple Leaf flag was unanimously chosen by the 15-member special flag committee on 22 October 1964.

The Union Jack

The British union jack is made up of three flags superimposed on one another:

the cross of St. Andrew, patron saint of Scotland;

the cross of St. George, patron saint of England;

and the cross of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland.

The Welsh flag isn’t included in the union jack because Wales was already united with England when the flag was designed. This is really too bad, because the Welsh flag has a cool dragon on it that would look great on top of all those crosses.

People from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales have very strong opinions about the union jack.


Canadian flags graphic (c) Wikipedia

List of plants in the botanical garden on Kitchener Island, Aswan, Egypt

Figs, sycamores, date palms (native to island).

Timber trees: African Khaya, Mahogany, Teak, Ebony, Terminallia, Tamarindus, Poinciniana, Camphor, Minbosia (Java Plum), Tamerix, Neem, Oak, Basia, Capok, Bauhinia, Bombax, Sissoo, Red Sandalwood Tree, Nephedium

Fruit crops: jackfruit, spondias, garcinia, eugenia with its spices, loquat, papaya, avocado, mango, citrus fruits, white sapote, chinese or common jujube, sapote, longan tree, guava, date palm, starfruit, fig

Spice crops: cinnamon tree, mastic tree, black pepper, red pepper

Medical and odiferous plants: pudding pipe tree (Cassia fistula), desert date, aux, vomica, jatropha (physic nut), anato, ixora, sophora, rose, pink, jasmine, murraea (orange jessamine), henna, Couronpita guianensis

Fibre products: kapok, bombax and chorisia

– From the descriptive billboard at the entrance to the garden.

Some fun facts:

Did you know that the white sapote is frost and freeze tolerant and produces a fruit that is “sweet and soft like custard“, which some people find horribly bitter and others find not bitter at all?

That the fig is distantly related to the mulberry, is pollinated by insects and has sap that contains copious milky latex irritating to human skin?

That the jujube (Ziziphus jujuba), which has been cultivated for more than 4,000 years in China, has shiny bright green leaves with two spines at the base of each one, some hooked and others long daggers?

And that the nephelium, aka the rambutan tree, is related to the lychee and has equally delicious fruit (except for the species with fruit so sour even monkeys won’t eat them), and seeds that are poisonous when eaten raw but apparently good when roasted?