Fun & Trivia

Facts from Wikipedia and sometimes elsewhere.
Pictures mostly our own, some from open web-sources.


Swahili time runs from dawn to dusk, rather than midnight to midday. 7am and 7pm are therefore both one o’clock while midnight and midday are six o’clock. Words such as asubuhi ‘morning’, jioni ‘evening’ and usiku ‘night’ can be used to demarcate periods of the day, for example:

  • 12 A.M.: saa sita usiku (hour six night)
  • 3 P.M.: saa tisa mchana (hour nine daytime)
  • 7:30 P.M.: saa moja na nusu jioni (hour one and a half evening)
  • 8:00 p.m saa mbili usiku  (‘hour two night’)  
  • 1:05 P.M.: saa saba na dakika tano mchana (hour seven and minutes five daytime)
  • 7:45 A.M.: saa mbili kasorobo asubuhi (hour two less-a-quarter morning)
  • About to be 8:00 A.M.: saa mbili kasoro asubuhi (hour two less morning)

Barking bird and non-barking dogs

The Antpitta avis canis Ridgley is a bird that looks like a stuffed duck on stilts and barks like a dog. The bird was discovered by ornithologist Robert S. Ridgley in the Andes in Ecuador in June 1998. Thirty of these long-legged, black-and-white barking birds were found. It apparently had gone undetected because it lives in remote parts and, of course, doesn’t sing. The size of a duck, it is one of the largest birds discovered in the last 50 years.

There also are dogs that do not bark! The basenji, smallish dog with a silky copper coat, does not bark. Instead, it yodels when it get excited. Wild dogs like the African Wild Dog also do not bark.

Flying animals and non flying birds

Bats are the only mammal that can fly.

The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards.

The penguin is the only bird that can swim, but not fly. It is also the only bird that walks upright.

Emu, Kivi, Takahé and Kasuar are also among birds that don’t fly.

The Takahe at Te Anau Bird Sanctuary
Takahē birds at Te Anau Bird Sanctuary


The word ‘banan’ is Arabic for finger. Banana plant are herbs of the same family as lilies, orchids and palms. Each banana plant bears only one stem of fruit. To produce a new stem, only two shoots are allowed to grow and be cultivated from the main plant.

India is the largest world producer of bananas, followed by Brazil.

The banana market is controlled by five large corporations – Chiquita, Dole, Del Monte, Noboa and Fyffes.

Frog or Toad?

There are close to 4,000 known species of frogs, including toads.

The biggest frog is the Goliath frog, Conraua Goliath of Cameroon. They reach nearly 30 cm and could weigh as much as 3,3 kilograms. 

The smallest frog is the Gold frog, Psyllophryne Didactyla  of Brazil. They dont dont get bigger than 1 cm.


– Family Ranidae > 2400 species. 
– Two bulging eyes 
– Strong, long, webbed hind feet 
that are adapted for leaping and swimming 
– Smooth or slimy skin 
– Lay eggs in clusters.

– Family Bufonidae > 1300 species.
– Glands behind the eyes 
– Short hind legs (for walking instead of hopping) 
– Warty and dry skin
– Lay eggs in long chains

Honey and Bees

Bees may travel as far as 360000 km and visit more than 8 million flowers to gather enough nectar to make a kilo of honey. The color and flavor of honey differ depending on the bees’ nectar source. The place where bee colonies are kept in one place is called  a APIARY. The honeybee’s wings stroke 11 400 times per minute

Honey is a source of carbo-hydrates; fructose 38 %, glucose 31 % and 17% water. Other stuff are: vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. Minerals like calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.  Known antioxidant compounds in honey are chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase and pinocembrin.


Lemons contain more sugar than Strawberries. ‘Sure’ and ‘Sugar’ are the only two words in the English language that are spelt ‘su’ and pronounced ‘sh’.

Sugar beet is usually grown as part of a rotation with other crops. By rotating beet with crops such as wheat, barley and peas, the field can be used without a major drop in fertility.

Sixty countries produce 70 million tonnes of raw cane sugar each year. The Americas grow as much as 50% of the world’s supply of sugar cane. It takes between 11 and 18 months for the cane to be ready for harvesting.

Sugar can be used to raise the boiling point or lower the freezing point. This is essential in some recipes, for example making ice cream.


Polkagris, typical Swedish local candy

Polkagris is the Swedish name for a peppermint candy with red stripes first appeared in the Swedish town of Gränna. 

The widow Amalia Eriksson 1859 applied for a permit to run a sugar-bakery and was granted permission by the Magistrat of the Town (=local authorities). 

There are at least 10 millions of “Polkagris” produced in Gränna per year in more than 20 bakeries. See Tourist info Gränna. See Wikipedia Polkagris

Paper Clip / Gem

According to Early Office Museum  the first bent-wire paper clip was patented by Samuel B. Fay in 1867 and was originally intended primarily for attaching tickets to fabric, although the patent recognized that it could be used to attach paper items together.

In 1904 Cushman & Denison obtained a trademark for “Gem” used in connection with paper clips. This was to become the most sucessful and sold paperclip. The announcement of the trademark stated “Used since March 1, 1892”. The Gem paperclip was never patented. In Swedish paperclip is called gem (almost like a scooter is called Vespa)


The world’s largest known spider is Theraphosa leblondi also called “The bird-eating spider”. It has a legspan of 28 cm.  Leblondi chums are found in rainforests of Surinam, Guyana and French Guiana.

The worlds smallest spider is the Patu Marplesi of Samoa. They are only 0,005 cm overall. They are about the size of this  ->  .

See BugGuide for more creepy things or Spider shop for more “human” stuff.


The Elder futhark consisted of 24 letters, beginning with F and ending with O. The name “futhark”, like the word “alphabet”, is derived from the first few letters in the runic sequence.

Rune-stones are standing stones with runic inscriptions on them dating from the Iron Age (Viking Age) and early Middle Ages found in most parts of Scandinavia. Most stones are put up as memorials for a dead person, like this one at Rök as well. On the stones you can find writing in runic, a distinctive sort of alphabet.

TThe Rune Stone of Rök
Read more about this famous Swedish rune-stone at Sim1 Travels
Sigurdsristning or Sigurd Carving at Sundbyholm in Sweden
Read more about this rock carving at Sim1 Travels

Runic signs was used by the northern Germanic tribes of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Northern Germany.  Read more about Vikings at Vikingspage on this site.

The Vikings used the The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc version with 33 different letters.

How to tie a Tie

A Windsor:

See website at Tie-A-Tie

See also Krawattenknoten or  Tie-A-Tie

The Moon

Arizona moon

Only about half of the moon’s surface is visible from earth as it keeps one side permanently turned towards Earth.

The dark patches are called maria, meaning ‘seas’. It was named at a time when people thought that water flowed over these regions. The other main regions are called ‘terrae’, or ‘land’.  The names of craters fall into two groups. Moon craters have been named for deceased scientists, scholars, explorers, and artists.  The craters around the Apollo crater and the Mare Moscoviense are to be named after deceased American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts.

The moon moves away from earth at a rate of 4 cm per year.

The length of time it takes the moon to circle the Earth, measured from one perigee (the closest point in its orbit to Earth) to the next is 27 days, 13 hours, 18 minutes, 37.4 seconds.

During a lunar eclipse the surface temperature can plunge 300 C in less than 90 minutes.


The Saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax around 1840. In 1857, Sax made six silver trumpets for Naopleon III and the Cent Gardes, the emperor’s guard of honor. 
Saxophone today comes in 8 different sizes, from the sopranino to the sub-double bass.
The Vatican officially condemned the instrument in the early 20th century, being too immoral.

“Growling” is the technique called when the saxophonist sings, hums using the back of the throat while playing.


The holiday at the last weekend of April is called Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish, Vappu in Finnish, Valpurģi in Latvian, Volbriöö in Estonian and Walpurgisnacht in German.

The name comes from Saint Walburga who was a daughter to the Saxon prince St Richard. Walburga became a nun and lived in the convent of Heidenheim. She died on 25 February 779 and was made a saint 1 May in the same year. That day carries her name in the Swedish calendar.

Actually the Vikings long before that had a spring party celebrating the return of life in nature and also fertility celebrations and these festivities were mixed up with honoring Saint Walburga.

In Germany, Walpurgisnacht, the night from April 30 to May 1, is the night when allegedly the witches hold a large celebration on the Blocksberg and await the arrival of Spring.

One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires and a choir singing songs; special Spring-celebration-songs only sung on this evening or 1:st of May, often sung by Student’s Choir.

Know the Difference

Murphy’s Law and Finagle’s law

Murphy’s Law is an epigram: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong“.
Finagle’s law: Anything that can go wrong, will—at the worst possible moment.

“The Murphy’s Law” has been named by engineer Edward A. Murphy, Jr. who experimented with rocket laces in the United States Air Force in the 1940’s. The work team in which Murphy participated tried to eliminate all opportunities for the technical devices to fail. Murphy’s original wording was: “If there are two or more ways to do something, and one of these ways leads to a disaster, someone will do it that way.
Click here for the story behind.

The term “Finagle’s law” was first used by John W. Campbell, Jr., the influential editor of Astounding Science Fiction . He used it frequently in his editorials.

Sod’s Law is a British axiom that is somewhat similar to Murphy’s Law, but with a twist. Sod’s Law carries a sense of being mocked by fate. Sod’s Law is related to the idea of the unlucky sod, an average person who has bad luck.

Douglas Adams comment:

The major difference between a thing that might go wrong
and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong
is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong
it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.

Variations on same theme:

  • If your project doesn’t work, look for the part that you didn’t think was important”.
  • A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.
  • Every solution breeds new problems.
  • If you improve or tinker with something long enough, eventually it will break or malfunction.
  • Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  • A shortcut is the longest distance between two points (ask my wife about that, she now refuses every shortcut by me)
  • Those who can, do. Those who cannot, teach.
  • Peter Principle; all people will eventually be promoted to their level of incompetence.
  • If you make something idiot-proof, the world will create a better idiot.
  • If you don’t feel well, make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you’ll feel better. Don’t make an appointment and you’ll stay sick.

Still more variations:

Click here for more “laws”