Lesson #423: 51158, Kinna

This is among the more random lessons I’ve posted here. I was doing nine things all at once the other day and heard a five-number string of numbers. If you live in the United States or you’re familiar with the US postal system, you know that zip codes (postal codes) are five digits long.

So, as I often do when I hear a string of numbers, I went to find out where that zip code was. Because things like that amuse me for no reason.

It turns out that 51158 is not a zip code in the United States. Oddly enough, it *is* a postal code for the Swedish town of Kinna. Which is in the same county as the city where The Swede lives. I don’t know what the odds are of hearing a random number and then finding out that the only place in the world where it’s a postal code is in the same county as one of my closest friends lives in a foreign* country, but I can’t imagine it’s very high. Maybe the universe is telling me it’s been too long since we were face-to-face.**

There’s not a whole lot I can find about Kinna, other than it has a population of around 15,000 and that it’s cold there in the winter. Like the rest of Sweden. It doesn’t also say that it’s dark most of the time in the winter, but I can assure you it is.

*Foreign to me. Sweden is not foreign to The Swede.

**It has, but I’d think that even if it had only been two weeks since we were last in the same place.


Lesson #402: Combinations Locks in the Arab World

Hello, all five of you who are still subscribed to this blog! Glad you’re still here.

I’m at a bit of an intellectual standstill, so I’ve decided to return to this endeavour for 2018.¬†Here’s a quick bite to tide you over until the new year — unless I decide to post again between now and then, in which case, you know, lucky you!

Every now and again, something will pop into my head for absolutely no reason, and it’ll be completely absurd and serve very little intellectual purpose. Not even as a question on Jeopardy!. This is one of those times.

Imagine this: it’s 11:30 pm on a weeknight. I’m getting ready to head in the direction of bed. And then this pops into my head: do combination locks in the Arab world use dial faces with the Hindi numerals on them? Do not ask me why I suddenly needed to know this at 11:30 on a weeknight. I’m as baffled by it as you are.

Now, to understand this question, it’s first important to clarify something you may not know. The numbers we use in Indo-European language (0, 1, 2, etc.) are Arabic numerals. The numbers used in Arabic are Hindi numerals. Answering this question should have been easy, but because of the subtleties of language, it was not. The internet was exactly zero help.

So I did the obvious thing and, at midnight, turned to a friend who spent years living in Jordan. We went back and forth about this for a little while. She wasn’t sure she’d ever seen a combination lock while in country. But in Jordan, they mostly use Arabic numerals in writing and signage, so she suggested it was likely that even if Master and similar companies do make locks with different dials, they wouldn’t be available in Jordan. But, she continued, Saudi Arabia is very strict in its usage of Hindi numerals. Obviously, the next person to ask was my Saudi friend. His response didn’t come in until the next morning because, seriously, who sends texts about lock dials at 12:30 in the morning?

In Arabic countries (and, by logical extension probably all other countries that do not use Arabic numerals), combination locks use the standard dial with Arabic numerals. Though this is as academically unreliable an answer as I’ve ever posted, it’s the best I can do with the failure of the internet to help in literally any way.

But now you know. For the zero times it will ever come up again.

Lesson #256 – something higher than that

So my schedule’s been a little hectic and I have a social life again and I just reformatted my hard drive, which sort of combines into not being diligent about keeping this up, but I’ve learned a whole bunch of really random stuff since the move.

For instance, there are immune system antibodies in tears (learned from an old college friend with a PhD in biology), and that it is, in fact, possible for 200,000 people to be in one place and not get into fights over minor differences and Jefferson Davis had an inauguration and there’s a dead ringer for Eminem living somewhere in a nearby county (a friend and I ended up drinking next to him/randomly meeting him at a microbrewery last weekend) and that to get to my best friend’s house, I have to drive right past the shipping port and it’s awesome, and assorted other random things.

But I’m back. For real this time. So…let’s move on shall we?

Lesson #204: Seattle’s Gum Wall

There’s a wall in Seattle covered, 15 feet high and 50 feet across, in gum. According to lots of people who know such things, it’s the second germiest tourist attraction in the world after the blarney stone at Blarney Castle (in Ireland, you philistines).

Apparently, the tradition of sticking gum to the wall began by accident in 1993 with anxious patrons of a local theatre. And the tradition has, well, stuck.

The CNN article is here, the wiki entry (with pictures) is here.

Lesson #187: Ridiculous Texas State Things

States have a whole bunch of official things. Rock. Birds. Foods. Sports.

They also have a whole bunch of ridiculous “official state” things.

We’ll take Texas as an example — because it’s like a whole different planet, so they’re easy to pick on. Texas has a state cooking implement (the dutch oven)*, a state tartan (God knows why)**, a state molecule (the buckyball), two state peppers because I guess just one isn’t good enough (the chiltepin and the jalepeno) and four state plays***. I promise this is all true. You can look it up (as well as whatever ridiculous things other states have recognized as official) at this website.

*In fairness to Texas, they’ve gone all the way with this theme because their state bread is pan de campo and their state vehicle is the chuck wagon.

**It’s called the Texas Bluebonnet tartan, which should be enough to tell you it’s not really an actual tartan at all.

***I’ve actually seen one of said plays it’s BAD. Like a really bad ripoff of the musical Oklahoma! My dad and I had a field day with it.

Lesson #164: My People Are the Best Fruit Juice Drinkers!

I stumbled on this map* today and it kept me occupied for quite some time. It was fun to see what the countries I’ve lived in have been best at. Beer drinking is on that list, but that one I actually already knew that. The Czechs consume a staggering amount of beer per capita. Like 25 litres per person per year more than the second country on the list — incidentally, also a country I have lived in.

Anyway, Canadians are apparently excellent juice drinkers. Awesome! I’d have said that we’re the best producer of professional hockey players, but maybe that one’s too obvious. That’s all most people know about Canada. Hockey players, maple syrup and yaks.**

I suggested this to my cousin and she replied, “but we are so good at catching da taste!” She gets major points for quoting a juice commercial from 20 years ago that starred a potential Hall of Fame second baseman.

*In general, this site is way fun!

**Well, if you ask my best friend, yaks are on that list.