Mar 8, 2009

Getting paid to educate myself (and anyone else who will listen to my vast amounts of knowledge)

There are days when I get home from work, and I can’t wait to get my boots off because me feet hurt so badly. My clothes stink because I spent my running from one task to another, from one emergency to another. And all I can say is, “They don’t pay me enough.”

Then there are days that I can’t believe I make the money I do, doing what I do. This Sunday morning is one of those days. I awoke at 0500 hours, the typical time I get up on work days. I arrived at 0540 hours and briefing started at 0545. Since then, the most strenuous thing I have done today was carry the coffee pots from the briefing room to my area of responsibility.

Seriously, I have had little to do, and so I have spent the better part of my day looking up random bits of information on the internet.

These are the things I have been “researching” this morning:

1. Daylight Saving Time. We started Daylight Saving Time (and for reference, most people inaccurately either spell or say it as Daylight Savings Time) with the idea that extra daylight would be beneficial in many respects. Eventually, the Uniform Time Act was passed. However, I do not believe there is any real pressure for any particular region of the world to fall in line with this act, making it the complete opposite of “Uniform.” In the US, Arizona decided they did not like DST, and actually got themselves exempted from the UTA. There are parts of Canada, Europe, Asia and an entire half of Australia that apparently refuse to conform to the Uniform Time Act. Honestly, I can't figure out why we even call it a Uniform Time Act. There is nothing uniform about it.

2. Asparagus. This came up, somehow, and I’m not even sure why. I already knew asparagus makes your pee smell. I even knew it was because the body can’t completely breakdown the asparagus during the digestion process. There are a few tidbits that I didn’t know. Ben Franklin said this about asparagus, “a few stems of asparagus eaten shall give our urine a disagreeable odor; and a pill of turpentine no bigger than a pea shall bestow upon it the pleasing smell of violets." Not everyone, though, gets the stinky pee. A study was conducted in 1956 of 115 people. Of the 115, 46 people became fragrant after eating the vegetable. 63 people showed no sign of emitting the stinky pee (quick math shows that to be a total of 109; Perhaps the other 6 people died before the study was completed?). And lastly, a person’s pee can start to stink in as little as 15 minutes after eating the offending vegetable.

3. Palo Verde Beetles. These are commonly found in Arizona and New Mexico. And they are huge. And they are ugly. They live in the ground for most of their lives, feeding off of the roots of the Palo Verde Tree (hence, the name. Duh). The typically come out of there hiding in the summer months, in July and August (when it’s the hottest). Then they fly around , and they are attracted to light. They weigh a ton, and it sounds like a small boulder hitting the ground. The funny thing is, the only reason the come out of hiding is for the purposes of mating, then dying. All I can say is, “What a way to go.”

4. How Lottery Tickets are Made. I was curious about the way lottery tickets are made, and more specifically, what the scratch off stuff is made of. Apparently it is made of acrylic, and is applied in a 3 step process. First, a layer is applied which a simply a primer, preparing the card stock for the rest of the layers. A second layer is applied and, which is printed with numerous lines and symbols, the same color as the numbers that are also printed, and sealed over with yet another layer of acrylic. The last layer contains highly opaque materials such as carbon black pigment or aluminum paste mixed with acrylic resins and appropriate solvents such as methyl ethyl ketone (I had to cut and paste this last sentence, as I generally couldn’t come up with a witty yet accurate alternative explanation). And as far as lotto tickets go, I rarely buy them. It was a simple curiosity.

I can’t believe I'm getting paid to do this.


  1. By the way Hawaii doesn't do the time change thing either! Great research......

  2. Wow, what a research bug (hee, hee). Anyway, I think that I will write these down and quiz you in about 5 years to make sure that this is engrained in your brain.
    By the way, Dad gets paid for doing absolutely nothing. (Hee, hee, it's called retirement!)

  3. Adam, why don't you do a poll on blog, "Does asparagus make your pee stink?" -- Dad

  4. While violet scented pee is enticing, perhaps not so much as to make eating turpentine seem like a good idea. Nice factoids, VOR! Janine


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