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Extremely Trivial Archives

What else is Trivial!

A letter to our editors
        One of our readers wrote us about a piece of Trivial News — the one in which we noted that, as silver is a heavy metal, it's not a good idea to ingest it in quantity, and that companiespeddling "Magical Cures" in the form of condiments containing silver salts were doing their customers no favors. Our reader, who is with a company called FacetsGlass, responded:
        "As one of only a couple of companies who supply the blue glass inserts to condiments I was suprised that you think no one uses silver tableware these days. You would be amazed at how many do... and even more amused by the people who throw away the inserts with the salt and mustard, although that keeps us in business. The reason that condiments had liners or were gilded inside, was to stop the decay of the salt or mustard on the silver and to stop the contents tastingsilvery. I don't know if this would actually harm someone but better to be safe than sorry and to buy an insert just in case."
        What? Of course we use silver tableware! But then, re-reading the story, we thought maybe it was a little ambiguous so we altered it somewhat to clarify the meaning and published a revised version. We try never to make a mistake, but we're human, too. And if you ever catch one, please let us know.
       Then we climbed into the Glass-insert-maker's website, and was it ever interesting! What a fascinating way to earn a living. We always wondered how they got those colored glass bottles inside those pretty filigreed silver covers. If you're curious too, take a look at their site, which is at and find out! (But be sure to bookmark US before you go, so you can read more of our thrilling Trivial News!)

The Real Luxury
        What is the greatest luxury? Ask the truly weary person, and the answer is simply, Enough Sleep! According to the National Sleep Foundation of Washington, D.C., fewer than half of us get enough sleep during the week, and the chronic sleepiness of that weary 60% is severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Worse — during the past year a scary 27% of drivers fell asleep at the wheel! But the sleep-tide is turning, says a recent Wall Street Journal article. Sleep is in, and naps are becoming the ultimate perk of the truly successful. So skip the power lunch, Pal. Take a power snooze instead!

Weather satellite prediction: Hot and sunny every day.
        The weather on the sun, that is. Space physicists also predicted gusty winds over Sol's north pole this autumn, and the Ulysses spacecraft will be there to have a look at it and report back to the home base at JPL.
        This pass was planned to take advantage of solar maximum, the time when the Sun is more active. "During that period, the solar wind is patchier, gustier, because the sources of the wind are more irregular," said Dr. Edward Smith, the project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Ulysses, which is managed jointly by JPL and the European Space Agency.
        Why now? Why irregular? Because the Sun's internal magnet flips every 11 years. When that happens, there's a rise in solar activity, the magnetic field becomes disordered, and the surface of the Sun gets more active, shooting up fireworks of coronal mass ejections — bubbles of gas and energy.
        Up there, so why not here? Yes, our Earth's magnetic field does reverse itself once in a long time, but you needn't worry about that just yet. It takes place only once every 200,000 years.

Did you miss Nature's Fireworks Last Time? Always more to come!

Is your cash insured?
        When it comes to FDIC insurance, most bank depositswill be protected if the institution runs into trouble andis closed--either because each customer's deposits totalless than $100,000 or because they qualify for additionalinsurance coverage. But some customers with more than$100,000 at one bank may exceed the FDIC insurance limitand these funds would not be protected if their bankfailed.

Peppermint without the mint?
        Researchers have just created a "cooling"-tasting compound based on malt, rather than mint. After shuffling carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen atoms around like playing cards, chemists at the German Research Center for Food Chemistry have come up with a substance that's 35 times more mouth-cooling than menthol (and with 250 times more skin-cooling power). They predict that before long you'll have cool chocolates, cool water, cool toothpaste, and maybe even cool lemonade, right out of a test-tube.
          Hmmm. Why don't I think that test-tube lemonade sounds cool?

Counting the Computers
        "Since 1984, the U.S. has seen a better than five-fold increase in the proportion of households with computers," said Census Bureau analyst Eric Newburger consulting data collected in August 2000. And in year 2000, more than 80% of the households with computers had at least one member using the Internet at home. (Wow! that's 44 million households!) The first time the Census Bureau collected data on Internet use was in 1997, and at that time, fewer than half of the households with computers had someone who was able to go online.

Do You Just Love Your Job?
        A review of public attitudes toward work was prepared recently by the American Enterprise Institute. A survey of polling results over a span of 28 years suggests appears that Americans really do, well, like their jobs! Unlike a recent Dilbert cartoon that suggests that "there is nothing to life but the job, complaining about the job, and death," 80% of Americans consistently report that they are very satisfied or at least moderately satisfied with their work. And more than half (52%) said the most important thing about their work is that it gives them a sense of accomplishment. A mere 23% were in it solely for the money. (Of course, we don't know the size of the samples, how they were selected, or what occupations were represented ... or left out. But as far as it goes, this is a great thought.)

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