Interesting Stuff: Who Knew?

What You Don’t Know About Money

What You Don’t Know About Money

Dear Kid,

Think you know about money? Think again.

Pennies used to be made of copper, but now they are mostly zinc and nickel. A penny (generally accepted to be worth one cent [or less]) now costs 2.4 cents to make. Somehow, this simultaneously makes no sense (it costs more to manufacture than it’s worth) and all the sense in the world (government).

On the other hand, only 8% of the global currency is cash. But you knew that most money is digital. You are part of the digital age. Maybe you are the digital age. In any event, think about how often we pay with a credit card (a lot) or transfer “money” between accounts (a lot). Digital cash.

The ink on paper money (which is actually cloth, not paper) is not just regular ink. It has trackable, magnetic, and—wait for it—birefringent properties. Birefringent means color changing. Like my hair.

Ben Franklin is the only non-president to appear on bill.

Money (the physical kind) doesn’t last forever. These days, a farm in Delaware mulches worn out bills into compost. Coins that are taken out of circulation are run through a waffling machine (which basically makes them the opposite of recognizable coins) and then they are recycled.

But Americans throw away about $62 million worth of coins every year. Hey, ‘Murica! Feel free to send it to me rather than losing your change in your couch or throwing it out with the burger wrappers!

Bacteria live on most money. Most of it won’t make you sick, but the flu virus can live on money for up to two weeks. The older the bill, the more likely it will have nasties on it, like salmonella or E. coli. Wash your hands.

Love, Mom

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Thirteen More Facts About the Number 13

Dear Kid,

Thirteen More Facts About the Number 13. DearKidLoveMom.comHappy 13th! And happy Day 2 of Fabulous Facts About the Number 13! To celebrate, here are 13 MORE facts about the number 13. (In case you already forgot, here are the first 13 Fab Facts.)

  1. The number 13 is considered a “happy number.” (Bet you didn’t know that.) Happy numbers are defined by a process of replacing each digit with its square and adding them up. Rinse and repeat until you get to the number “1”.
  2. “Eleven plus two” is an anagram of “twelve plus one”. That is just plain freaky cool.
  3. In Italy, 13 is a very lucky number. The phrase “fare tredici” (literally “to do 13”) means (figuratively) that you hit the jackpot. Well, duh. Because if you’re in Italy, that’s pretty wonderful.
  4. There are 13 items in a baker’s dozen. (You knew that.)
  5. Thirteen is a happy number. DearKidLoveMom.comBut I bet you didn’t know that 13 is the smallest emirp. Did you even know we had emirps? An emirp (I did not make this up) is a prime number that becomes a different prime number when its digits are reversed.
  6. M is the 13th letter of the alphabet and exceptionally good for applying to Aunties and chocolate.
  7. District 13 wasn’t wiped out as so many people believed. (Extra points for getting the reference.)
  8. In rugby league, each side has 13 players on the field. (This does not apply if they’re playing sevens.)
  9. There are 13 notes (inclusive) in a full chromatic musical octave (this will also not be on the test).
  10. The number 13 has been good luck for many athletes including Wilt Chamberlain (basketball), Alex Rodriguez (baseball), and Pavel Datsyuk (hockey).
  11. The number 13 is an important motif in American heraldry (what? We have heraldry? When did that happen?). There were 13 original colonies,
  12. there are 13 stripes on the American flag, and
  13. the Great Seal of the United Sates has 13 stars on it.

Don’t you feel better knowing all that?

Love, Mom

District 13 in The Hunger Games. But you knew that.

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Thirteen Facts About the Number 13

Dear Kid,

Tomorrow is the 13th. The number thirteen is one of those interesting numbers that carries superstitions and mysteries almost equal to the pre-game rituals of professional athletes. Here are thirteen facts about the number 13. (Not to worry—I’ll have 13 more facts about the number 13 tomorrow.)

  1. Thirteen Facts About the Number 13 DearKidLoveMom.comThere is always at least one Friday the 13th every year. This year, we are fortunate enough to have two Friday the 13ths: one in January (hope you enjoyed it) and one in October. Black cats will be sighted everywhere.
  2. Thirteen is a prime number. (You knew that, but I thought it worth repeating.)
  3. Thirteen is the square root of 169 and the cube root of 2197. This will not be on the test.
  4. There are four suits in a deck of cards with 13 cards in each suit. (You knew that too.)
  5. In a deck of Tarot Cards, the number 13 is the Death Card. (Usually, the Death Card means change or transition which is not always bad, but actual death is generally considered unlucky.)
  6. There are lots of “reasons” the number 13 is associated with bad luck. One reason is that there were 13 people at the Last Supper. Very unlucky indeed for one in particular.
  7. Another reason is that 12 is a “holy” number (12 signs of the Zodiac, etc.) and since 13 follows 12 it must be the opposite of holy.
  8. Continuing the 12-13 connection/competition, some experts believe that the superstition around 13 is based on the calendar. That is, lunar calendars had 12 “true” months and threw in an extra (and by “extra” we mean not-regular and by “not regular” we mean bad and by “bad” we mean unlucky) month every so often to get the calendar back on schedule.
  9. Alexander the Great (well-known general and extremely shy person) wanted to be a deity. There were 12 gods in the pantheon and when he built a statue to himself he became (or wished to have become) the 13th. Then he died. Bad luck, Alex.
  10. A properly constructed hangman’s noose has 13 wraps above the noose, and
  11. traditionally, there are 13 steps leading up to the gallows platform (that was the proper height for breaking a person’s neck).
  12. The blade of a guillotine fell from 13 feet.
  13. And rounding out our list with a whole bunch of thirteens, Apollo 13 was the 13th mission launched from pad #39 (13×3). It launched April 13th at 13:13 CST. I have chills. On the plus side, it landed safely and went on to happily ever after at the box office.

Tune in tomorrow for the surprisingly happy part 13.

Love, Mom

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June 29th–Hug Holiday Day | The Thing About Hugs

Dear Kid,

Today, June 29th, is Hug Holiday Day. (I’m in favor of hugs. I’m in favor of holidays. And I’m in favor of days. But “Hug Holiday Day” needs work. Why not “Give Someone a Hug Day”? Or “Heaping Up Goodness”? Yeah, not great, I know, but still better than Hug Holiday Day. Just sayin’.)

A hug is like a boomerang—you get it back right away. ~Bil Keane, “Family Circus”

You can't wrap love in a box, but you can wrap a person in a hug. ~Author Unknown DearKidLoveMom.comHug Holiday Day was created by the Hugs for Health Foundation as part of their premise that “hugs, friendship and volunteer support are vital components to the overall senior care plan.”

Lovely. Let’s get to the hugs.

I love hugging.  I wish I was an octopus, so I could hug ten people at a time.  ~Drew Barrymore

Studies have found that not only are hugs good for the soul (and for inspiring fun quotes), they actually help improve health. Hugs decrease feelings of loneliness and tension, lower blood pressure, and improve self-esteem and immune system functions.

I have a present for you, but I need to borrow your arms for wrapping paper.  ~Author Unknown

Hugs can help ease fear. Studies have shown what every toddler knows: you feel less afraid when you hug something, whether it’s a person or a stuffed animal.

I will not play at tug o’ war
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs….
~Shel Silverstein

Every time I think of you, it is like getting a hug from the inside out. ~Author Unknown DearKidLoveMom.comHugs are nice. They are good for you, they’re free, and they’re fun. So go hug someone. Or two someones.

And remember that even though I’m not next to you, I’m hugging you long-distance.

A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go. ~Author Unknown

Love, Mom

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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Dear Kid,

“To die, to sleep – to sleepperchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…” Hamlet

“To die, to sleep – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there's the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…” Hamlet DearKidLoveMom.comHamlet was worrying about eternal dreams (of the bad kind) if he gives up and dies. Turns out, only 50% of people report having occasional nightmares. Those of us who do, understand Hamlet’s fear. Eternal nightmares would be…er, a nightmare.

Researchers believe that fear is not the main emotion in most nightmares. Rather, sadness, guilt, and confusion take center stage. FACT: These researchers have not checked with me. When I have that awful dream about being late for an exam in a class I’ve never attended, my main emotion isn’t sadness, it’s fear and panic. I’ve had nightmares where confusion reigns, but not all that often.

Turns out, most people generally dream about normal situations with familiar people. Uh, huh. I sometimes dream about normal stuff. Like finding myself back in college and not having gone to class for an entire semester, or working with people I no longer work with. But I also dream about really weird stuff too. Don’t most people?

Do you dream in black and white or color? Before color TV, most people dreamed in black and white. I have no idea which I do. I have a hard enough time remembering the dream, I don’t have a shot at remembering whether there was color or not. According to researchers, within 5 minutes of waking up, people forget 50% of their dreams. After 10 minutes, they have forgotten 90%. No word on how long it takes to forget whether you dream in color.

Scientists used to believe we dream only in while in REM sleep, but now they think we dream the whole time we’re asleep. We just don’t remember most of the dreams. Which is unfortunate, because I’m pretty sure there is some weirdly interesting stuff going on in dreamland.

Sweet dreams whenever you find the time to sleep.

Love, Mom

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More About Sleep (You Will Be Amazed)

More About Sleep (You Will Be Amazed)

Dear Kid,

As you may have noticed over the last few years (and by “last few years” I mean your entire life), I feel strongly about the subject of sleep. As in, I believe in sleep. I believe in the occasional weekend nap, I believe in sometimes snoozing in the car while Dad drives, and mostly I believe in not being woken up from a sound sleep.

My alarm clock doesn’t always agree with me on this last point, but that’s a different subject.

This koala does not need sleeping lessons. DearKidLoveMom.comHumans spend about a third of their lives sleeping. This is good because it means you are awake enough to enough the other two-thirds. However, about 1 in 5 adults (3 out of 5 college students, and 4 out of 5 dentists) don’t get enough sleep. This is sad, because it means they are actually sleeping through parts of their awake time.

People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even knowing they were sleeping. This is dangerous, because it means you may miss the most important part of a lecture or the exit ramp you were supposed to take.

According to a 2008 study, 34% of respondents say their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16% said their employer provides a place for them to do so. A) I have never worked for an employer who allows napping, B) I don’t know anyone who works somewhere that allows napping, C) while I have read articles lauding the idea of a mid-day siesta I’ve not read about workplaces providing nap-rooms (except for preschoolers), so D) I am highly skeptical about the veracity of the study.

Sleeping makes you skinny. (Now you’re paying attention. Now I’m really paying attention.) First of all, when you sleep, you can’t eat. Believe me, I’ve tried. Secondly, levels of leptin (an appetite-regulating hormone) fall when people are sleep deprived, leading them to eat more.

Dysania is the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. That’s the scientific name. The more common name is “real life.” This is especially true for parents of very young children (FACT: Most parents lose between 400 and 750 hours of sleep in each child’s first year of life. You owe me.). And for parents of older children (FACT: Most parents lose between one and two zillion hours of sleep once their children begin driving.).

After only 17 straight hours of being awake, people begin experiencing symptoms of sleep deprivation, which includes functional deficits similar to those experienced by people with a blood alcohol level of .05%. This means pretty much anyone who watches late night TV and all college students are ridiculously sleep deprived. How are you supposed to learn if you’re “sleep drunk”? (I just made that term up. But it works, no?)

Not only does staying up late make you sleep deprived, but your roommate can make you sleep deprived–and sick. And not just by bringing all sorts of nasty germs around. Noises at night—especially during the first and last hour of sleep—can disrupt your immune system. Who knew?

Get a good night’s sleep tonight. You can thank me later.

Love, Mom

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