|Have Fun Building Your Intelligence With 500 Good Ways To Spend Your Idle Moments|
Once you discover the amazing and sadly sometimes tragic mistakes others have made, you'll feel better about yourself. Anything you might have done in the past will pale in comparison. Please remember that everyone makes mistakes. It is part of being human.
Everything you'll find here is absolutely true, so far as I can tell.
"Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." - Albert Einstein
"Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?" - L.M. Montgomery
"When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat, and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way." - Paulo Coelho, author of Brida
"We learn from failure, not from success!" - Bram Stoker, author of Dracula
"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. - Rita Mae Brown, Alma Mater
"Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others." - Brandon Mull, Fablehaven
A Japanese priest set a kimono on fire in Tokyo because it carried bad luck. The flames spread until over 10,000 buildings were destroyed and 100,000 people died. (Year: 1657)
Captain Edward Smith decided to ignore suggestions to slow his ship down while going through waters known to have icebergs. He wanted to be sure to arrive on time. It was his ship's maiden voyage. The year was 1912 and he was in charge of the largest ship, in fact the largest moving machine, ever built. It was called the Titanic. You know the rest of the story.
What you may not know is that Captain Smith made another fatal error that day: He did not inform the passengers as to the severity of the situation, once they hit the ice, and did not stay on board long enough to help people get into the lifeboats in an organized way. As a result, many lifeboats left with just a few passengers, although they each had a capacity for seventy people. More than 1,500 passengers who could not get on lifeboats died in the mishap.
In 1991, MTS Oceanos, another cruise ship, started taking on water in heavy seas and lost power. Just like the captain of the Titanic, Captain Yiannis Avranas did not help the passengers escape. Instead, he abandoned the bridge almost immediately. Guitarist Moss Hills and his wife Tracy, who were hired as entertainers on the ship, went up to the bridge to find out what was happening. Upon finding no one in charge, Moss himself called in a mayday, which eventually brought rescue for everyone on board just moments before the ship sank.
Almost exactly one hundred years after Titanic, Captain Francesco Schettino ignored the sea lane map and maneuvered his large cruise ship, Costa Concordia, close to Isola del Giglio, an island just off the coast of Italy, evidently so his passengers could enjoy the close passage. His ship gored itself on a rock outcropping and capsized. Water flooded vital equipment resulting in a power outage. This captain, too, left the ship early. Not only did he not help his passengers into lifeboats, he told the passengers nothing, leaving them to mill around aimless and confused in the darkness while the ship floundered with no one in control.
The captain was found a short time after the little mishap smoking a cigarette under a staircase. Then, he left in one of the first lifeboats, and refused to re-board his ship and take charge of the evacuation when ordered to do so by the Italian Coast Guard.
The passengers and the mostly untrained crew had to organize their own evacuation. The crew were mostly restaurant, cleaning and entertainment staff, so were not trained in safety procedures. Among the most helpful people in the evacuation, and the last to leave were Tracy and Moss Hills. That's right, the same couple who were on the MTS Oceanos!
Even though the ship did not fully capsize, being only meters from the coast, and even though the water was warm and calm, at least thirty people died.
What's with these captains? Psychologists say it is not uncommon for good people to act poorly in such situations. When one is in charge of a lot of people, and something goes terribly wrong, the one in charge will often freeze up with fear, rendering them useless in an emergency.
On December 5, 1664, a ship sank off the coast of Wales. The only survivor was a man named Hugh Williams. On December 5, 1785, another ship sank. One man survived, another Hugh Williams. On December 5, 1860, yet another ship went down with only one survivor - you guessed it - his name was Hugh Williams.
Frank Tower was a ship worker who was on the Titanic when it sank, the Empress of Ireland when it sank, and the Lusitania when it sank. He escaped all three times.
Casimir Polemus of France survived three shipwrecks. In each case, he was the only survivor.
In 1975, orchestra conductor Jose Serebrier accidentally stabbed himself through the hand with his baton while performing. The audience and musicians were impressed by the fact that he continued to lead the orchestra in perfect timing as if nothing had happened.
When Thomas Edison was twelve years old, he had a job selling newspapers on a commuter train. He had set up a printing press on the train to make his own newspapers, and thereby increase his profits. He also set up a chemistry lab, to indulge his already well-developed scientific curiosity. One day, as the train went around a particularly tight turn, some of Edison's phosphorus fell on the floor and started a small fire. As the train came into the station, and the conductor discovered the problem, Tom tried to run away. The conductor pulled him back up into the train by his ears. "I felt something snap inside my head," Edison said. From that time until his death, he was hard of hearing.
In 1985, a valve in a dairy leaked a little bit of raw milk into a large tank of pasteurized milk. Two hundred thousand people got food poisoning.
Fifty percent of all turkeys and 37 percent of all chickens that you can buy in grocery stores are contaminated with Campylobacter (food poisoning) according to the US Food and Drug Administration.
Last year 81 million Americans got sick from food poisoning and 9,000 of them died. The average American will get food poisoning 100 times in a lifetime. The symptoms are headache, sick feeling, diarrhea. Most people think this is the flu. To prevent food poisoning, clean all kitchen items with heat, never leave food at room temperature for more than a few minutes, and never handle prepared food after handling raw meat or poultry.
Right out of law school, Richard Nixon, later to become a an American President, got his first job as a lawyer, representing a client in court trying to recover a bad debt. He lost the case. He was then sued by the client for inept handling of her case.
A diver, Alexander Labret, found a great shipwreck. He was going to be rich! Every day he went down 162 feet (51 meters) to salvage the valuables. He went down 33 times. Divers are supposed to come up slowly to avoid the bends, a painful and dangerous condition in which bubbles of nitrogen appear in the blood and block circulation due to the rapid decompression of rising quickly from deep, high-pressure water. On his very last dive, Alex was excited and came up more quickly than he should have. He had $350,000, but he was paralyzed for life.
As a promotional stunt at a baseball game in 1939, catcher Joe Sprinz tried to catch a baseball dropped from 1,200 feet in the air. He said he could see the ball all the way down, but somehow instead of catching it in his mitt, it hit him in the face, cracking his jaw in twelve places.
Not all of Henry Ford's mechanical engineering worked out as successfully as the Model T Ford.
When Henry Ford was about ten years old, he noticed steam rising out of his mother's teapot on the stove. He figured that if the steam were trapped in the teapot, the whole thing would have to rise into the air. To test his theory, Henry took a clay teapot and corked the spout from inside and tied down the lid. He then put the teapot in the fireplace and settled down to watch closely. Soon something happened, but it wasn't what Henry expected. The teapot exploded, breaking a window and a mirror in the living room and scalding Henry and cutting his cheek with bits of shrapnel.
Did you know that steel is flammable? It's true. If you light steel wool with a match, it will burst into flames. Be careful, it gets very hot. When steel rusts, that is just a slow form of burning. Burning and rusting are both cases of the iron in steel combining with oxygen from the air.
The National Research Council has found out that so far, at least 21 ships carrying scrap metal from machine shops have burst into flames in American ports.
Firdinand Raimund was bitten on the finger by a dog. He was so worried about what might happen that he shot himself to death.
An atomic bomb was tested in the desert of Nevada in 1953. Nearby, (downwind) in St. George, Utah, a Howard Hughes film was being made with a cast that included Pedro Armendariz, Dick Powell, Agnes Moorhead, Ted de Corsia, John Wayne, and Susan Hayword. These members of the cast all died of cancer. There were 220 other people involved in the film, and 91 of them contracted cancer.
The United States can be blamed for the Hindenburg disaster. This was a huge blimp that burst into flames in New Jersey, burning and killing many of its passengers. It would have been much safer to fill the blimp with nonflammable helium than explosive hydrogen. Then, if there were a leak, nothing would have happened. There would be plenty of time to set the ship down and fix it. But the United States refused to sell helium to the Germans, so they had to use the hydrogen.
In 1945, the Empire State Building was hit by an airplane which destroyed most of the 78th floor.
When Adolf Hitler saw a pile of bricks near the church of St. Matthew in Munich, Germany, he said, "That pile of stones will have to be removed." Someone misunderstood him, thinking he was referring to the whole church. The church was demolished.
Time Magazine listed Adolf Hitler as "Man of the Year for 1938."
Don't drink and dive. Sam Patch was the man known throughout America in the 1820's for leaping from the tops of bridges and waterfalls. He was a professional. Sam made his money like a street juggler or magician, by passing the hat. He created as much of a show of it as possible, sometimes jumping into the water with his pet bear. He successfully jumped Niagara Falls. Sam became a national rage, and started a jumping craze. Farmers jumped over fences, retailers leaped over their sales counters.
While attempting a second jump into Gennesee Falls, a smaller but still spectacular waterfall in Rochester, NY, Sam disappeared. He jumped from a 100 foot high tower in November, just to make the feat more difficult. Over 6,000 people watched him jump, but none saw him return. Some folks reported that he had been drinking before his fatal dive. Finally, in March of the following year, his body was discovered encased in a block of ice.
Approximately 365 Americans drown in their own bathtubs every year.
Children have been known to drown in toilets.
A church steeple in Germany was struck by lightning and destroyed on April 18, 1599. The members of the church rebuilt it. It was hit by lightning three more times between then and 1783, and rebuilt again and again. Every time it was hit, the date was April 18.
Once every three or four days an American dies due to being struck by lightning.
Two-thirds of the people struck by lightning survive.
Men are six times more likely to be struck by lightning than women.
If you stand under an oak tree, you are much more likely to be struck by lightning that if you stand under many other kinds of trees. Why are oaks more dangerous? Their roots go deeper which make a better electrical ground.
An average bolt of lightning is less than one inch thick. The electricity is thirty million volts.
Thunder storms can approach as fast as fifty miles per hour.
People have died from shaking vending machines and having the machines fall on them.
Dying from carbon monoxide poisoning was more common in the nineteenth century than today. Here is some advice that later proved to be quite incorrect. This is quoted from an old book:
"CHARCOAL FUMES. - The usual remedies for persons overcome with the fumes of charcoal in a close apartment are, to throw cold water on the head and to bleed immediately; also apply mustard or hartshorn to the soles of the feet."
Young children are poisoned by house plants more often than by detergents and other chemicals.
A great artist, Correggio, was paid for one of his paintings with a large bag of copper coins. He died of over exertion while trying to move the bag.
Because someone sent an unsigned complaint, Emperor Mohammed Toughlaq of Delhi ordered that all 60,000 people abandon their city and walk 600 miles.
One time American President William Howard Taft, who weighed 352 pounds, settled into his bathtub for a warm soak. When he was ready to get out, he couldn't. He became stuck in the tub and required help getting out.
Debi Lane went into the hospital for a test, a thyroid x-ray. Someone misread the order and gave her a major dose of radiation designed as a last resort attempt to kill thyroid cancer. The dose was so high, when she went home, she contaminated her children with radiation. Now, she is fairly certain to come down with cancer within the next twenty-five years.
Men are twice as likely to die from an accident as women.
There was a postage stamp issued that showed Christopher Columbus using a telescope. Telescopes had not been invented in 1492.
Germany issued an incorrect postage stamp. This one was in honor of Robert Schumann, a composer. In the background was some music written by Franz Schubert.
On the night of July 5, 1991, while sleeping soundly with his wife, a police officer dreamed that someone was breaking into their house. Half waking up, he grabbed his gun from his night stand and promptly shot himself in the leg. His wife slept through it. He was reported in satisfactory condition at the local hospital.
When he heard that Sarah Bernhardt may need to have a leg amputated, PT Barnum sent a telegram offering $1,000 for her leg.
A husband and wife from Switzerland stopped in a restaurant in Hong Kong and asked that their poodle be taken to the kitchen and fed something. Because of a misunderstanding, the waiter did what he thought they wanted, and had the cooks fry the dog for the couple.
In a laboratory in Paris where researchers were conducting a secret study to decide whether an industrial product causes cancer, six of the workers have come down with various rare cancers and two have died.
Russian scientists grew an orchid in space then returned it to earth. Before they could study it fully, someone stole it from the laboratory.
A party was held in Moscow to celebrate the coronation of Czar Nicholas II in 1896. Free beer was offered to the public, causing a massive stampede in which 5,000 people were killed in the crush.
In the early days of television, game shows in which the contestants could win huge prizes were common. One 54 year old woman won big on the TV show, "Temptation," and promptly died of a heart attack during live broadcasting.
During the 1954 Cotton Bowl, a halfback was close to completing a 95 yard touchdown with no opposition in sight. Tommy Lewis, a fullback of the opposing team, got so excited he leaped off the bench and tackled the halfback himself!
Responses to emergencies by modern fire departments are very well choreographed, but it wasn't always so. In 1963, while the Matlock residence of New Hyde Park, NY was burning to the ground, the two fire departments which responded could not put out the fire, because they were too busy arguing about which department should do it.
James Bartley was one of those guys who used to stand at the very front of a small boat and blast a harpoon into a whale. Things went quite wrong for him when a wounded whale turned around, upset his boat, causing him to fall into the water, then swallowed him. After awhile, his fellow whale-catchers killed the whale and started cutting it up. Inside they found James, still alive but badly surprised.
In 1955 at the famous road race of Le Mans, a driver lost control of his car, which after careening off a wall, broke up and showered the crowd with parts, killing 77 people.
The IRS came and took away the car from in front of a man's house because he had not paid all his taxes. But the car belonged to his neighbor. The innocent neighbor had to pay the towing company $78 to get his own car back. The IRS did not reimburse him.
In the Chicago fire of 1871, the one Mrs. O'Leary's cow supposedly started by kicking over a lantern, over 10,000 houses were burned down before it was all over.
The 7,000-ton cargo ship, Fort Stikine, sailed into crowded Bombay Harbor, India in 1944. It was loaded with a mixed freight ranging from fish to cotton to explosives. A sailor noticed smoke coming out of a ventilator that serviced one of the ship's cargo holds, but since it was close to lunch time, he did not mention the problem. The fire in the hold was discovered after lunch, but by then it was raging out of control. Authorities suggested sinking the ship, but because the harbor was crowded and shallow, it would have to sail out to sea to be scuttled. No problem, but first the captain wanted to phone the ship's insurance company to see if they thought it a good idea. While he was on the phone, the ship blew up into a million pieces, sinking 27 nearby ships, raining junk all over downtown Bombay and killing well over 1,000 people.
Recently broadcast from a rural radio station:
"There is a tan and white cow wandering around the corner of Brookhurst and E. Central. If it's yours, go get it."
Abraham Lincoln's mother died by drinking milk from a cow which when foraging in the woods, had eaten the poisonous snake root.
A man convicted of murder was electrocuted at Sing Sing. Just before burial, he revived and jumped out of his coffin. The authorities caught him and executed him again. The second attempt was more permanent.
When London inventor James Hetherington first wore his new invention, the top hat, in 1797, it caused quite a stir. He was immediately thrown in jail because he "appeared on the public highway wearing upon his head a tall structure of shining luster and calculated to disturb timid people."
Whether or not you wear a bicycle helmet is a personal choice, but let me tell you about one unfortunate bicyclist I met. She had been in a collision with a car and struck her head on the pavement. I met her about two years after the accident. Approximately age 25, she looked and acted just fine as far as I could tell. But she told me about her bizarre symptoms.
After she woke up from her coma, she had no residual problems except one, which has not changed for two years, and appears permanent. Somehow, her brain is no longer able to discern a single object or event from a group. If she is in a room where many people are talking, she cannot hear just the one who is talking to her. If the television is on in the background, she cannot talk on a phone. She cannot go shopping. A row of laundry soap in the supermarket looks like a complete row of soap, and she can't pick just one. She can't even see just one box of soap, she only sees them all at once.
The ultimate new car owners' horror story: A college student was given a new front wheel drive car by her parents. After 1,200 miles, it was due for its first oil change at the dealer, but a fellow student offered to change her oil for free. He figured this would be a good way to get her attention. She reluctantly allowed him to change the oil because it seemed so important to him to do so.
He crawled under the front of the car and removed the transmission drain plug. She commented that the oil seemed awfully thick. He said that was the way it is supposed to be in new cars. After reinserting the transmission plug, he put four quarts of oil in the engine. Now there was no oil in the transmission and twice as much as there should have been in the engine. She drove a few miles and the car quit working properly. The dealer towed it away, and after preparing a careful estimate, reported that the damage was not covered by the warranty, being abuse, and repairs would cost $2,400. Her friend got her attention all right!
The first person to die from radiation poisoning, and therefore show previously incautious scientists that radium was dangerous, was Marie Curie.
Even though thousands of heart transplants have been performed, imagine how scared you would be if you were to undergo the knife for that procedure. Then imagine how much worse you would feel when regaining consciousness, to find out that the doctors accidentally put the wrong heart in you, one that doesn't match your blood type and one which your body is very likely to reject, perhaps before another donor shows up! It was big news on August 16, 1991, when a doctor in Portland Oregon, made himself famous with this very mistake. But, he wasn't the first time for this type of accident. It happens all the time. Well, actually, it has happened to at least eight other people so far.
Not knowing CPR, when a son saw his father stop breathing due to a heart attack, he attacked his father's chest with a toilet plunger and saved his life. (This is not the recommended way to save lives.)
Chevrolet could not sell Novas in South America. Upon looking into the matter, their advertising department discovered that Nova is "no va" in Spanish, which means: "no go."
About fifty years ago, many adolescents with acne were treated with X-ray radiation. Now, several of them have come down with thyroid cancer.
From 1952 to 1954, a US government nuclear facility in Richland, Washington, called Hanford Reservation, was leaking huge amounts of radioactivity into the air. The radiation exposure to local residents was more per hour than is considered safe for a whole year. Concerned workers sent maps to the Atomic Energy Commission showing where the exposure was most dangerous so the residents could be evacuated or at least warned. The AEC didn't want to create a fuss, so the maps were totally ignored.
At this same facility in 1949, scientists were wondering whether Soviet nuclear facilities could be detected by tracing their radiation leaks into the atmosphere. So to test the theory, they deliberately let loose a huge cloud of radioactive iodine 131 to see if they could monitor its travel through the air. Due to an unexpected change in weather, the cloud settled all over the town of Richland. The residents were never told about it. One of Hanford's neighbors, who had his thyroid gland removed because it was killing him, surveyed 28 families living on a one-mile stretch of road near the reactors. He found that 27 of them had appalling medical histories including miscarriages, birth defects and cancer.
In order to be 'safe,' the dangerous reactors at Hanford, ones that dissolved spent fuel pellets and created concentrated plutonium, were only operated on days when the weather conditions were right to carry the radioactive gases emitted from the chimneys up and away, to some other location.
You may be wondering what kind of creatures were in charge of the facility, to let these things happen. So was I. But, what I found out is that they seem to have been truly concerned with public and employee safety. Unfortunately, these good-hearted guys consistently underestimated the dangers of radioactive material. At the time, there simply was not any information to indicate that low-level exposures would bring ill health so many years later.
The screaming of an upset baby can damage your hearing. Kids can scream at levels up to ninety decibels, and permanent damage can be caused at 85 decibels. One decibel is the minimum amount of sound detectable by the human ear. So, holding an upset baby is a loving thing to do, but holding the baby close to your ear is probably a bad idea.
At one time, the country of Albania honored a smoker who used twelve packs a day by putting his picture on a postage stamp.
Cigarette smokers catch colds 65 percent more often.
Every thing about smoking cigarettes is dangerous. Last year 6,000 people suffered injuries caused by ashtrays.
Researchers found out that women who work at home as housewives have a 54 percent greater chance of getting cancer than women who work at paid jobs. The hypothesis is that housewives are affected by the carcinogenic cleaning chemicals they frequently use.
You can accidentally kill yourself by drinking over forty cups of coffee in one day. The amount of caffeine is sufficient to cause respiratory failure.
Coffee drinkers are 72 percent more prone to ulcers and twice as prone to pancreatic cancer.
Of the half-million Americans who receive combat training, half of these men will develop some permanent hearing damage due to the loud noises made by combat weapons.
The United States Strategic Air Command invented an atomic powered airplane. There were some problems. Even though carrying twenty tons of lead to shield the pilot, only crews who had already had children could be used due to the radiation exposure. If the plane crashed, there would be no way to contain the contamination. Fortunately, the military had the good sense not to develop this plan fully.
If you are involved in a car accident, your chances of getting hurt are only one out of ten. If you have an accident on a motorcycle, it's the other way around. Your chances of getting hurt are nine out of ten.
People who live near airports and have to hear the noise of planes taking off and landing are up to sixty percent more likely to die than people who live elsewhere. The rate of fatal heart attacks is eighteen percent higher. The rate of crime related deaths and suicide is double. There are twice as many fatal accidents in people who are over age 75.
Bees love junk food such as hamburgers, soda and milk shakes. In urban areas, where fast food restaurants abound, bee populations have expanded tremendously. Be careful when eating outdoors because you may accidentally eat a bee who is trying to share your hamburger. This could result in a sting - inside your mouth!
Because the Americans felt unqualified to cast a bell so large, the Liberty Bell was made in England and shipped to America. It arrived in 1752. It cracked the very first time it was rung. This was the only bell made by the Whitechapel Foundry of London that ever cracked in the 400 years they had been making them.
The colonists melted it down and tried to recast it themselves, but it did not sound good when finished. They tried again, and then it worked fine for 83 years until 1835 when it cracked again. They used it for eleven more years, but finally the crack was growing too big to ignore.
It was supposed to be melted down and poured into a mold to make a new bell twice as big, but the man hired for the job refused to do it. He said "Your children and my children will some day come to value it, so let it stand."
To those who have been to Philadelphia and seen the Liberty Bell, it seems huge. But it is far from the largest bell in the world. In Russia there is a bell so big that twenty-four people are needed to ring it. It was originally cast in the sixteenth century. It fell off its support, broke, and was recast in 1654. It fell off its support and broke again in 1706, and it was recast again. This Russian bell is taller than three people, and as big in diameter as a car. It weighs 443,732 pounds, about the same as 4,000 people.
Ten of us twenty-something year olds, all friends, piled into my old station wagon and went to the roller rink. It was an old fashioned rink with disco music. One of us, Jason, was deaf. He was very good at lip reading, but one thing he couldn't do was figure out how loud to speak. He usually talked in a near-whisper, probably because as he was growing up, everyone told him he was too loud most of the time.
All evening long, since it was very loud in the rink with the music, children shouting, and the sound of the a hundred pairs of skates on the floor, we all had to shout to be heard. So naturally, all night long, we were telling Jason, "Louder!," so we could hear him. Finally, he started yelling loud enough to be heard.
Suddenly, the music stopped. A little girl had fallen and didn't get right up. They turned off the music and announced over the PA that we had to line up against the sides of the rink while the staff came out to make sure she was okay. (She was.) It became so quiet you could hear pages turning in a book.
Jason saw us all lining up, and he did too, but looked confused, since he hadn't heard the announcement. Looking right at me, he shouted at the top of his lungs, "WHAT THE F***'S GOING ON?"
Brian was sixteen years old, and had just passed his driver's test. He got by with a minimum amount of instruction and practice. His father bought him a car. Not a new car, but a nice, reliable used one, all his parents could afford. On the second day after Brian had his license, he came to a freeway exit. Not knowing any better, he came off the ramp way too fast, and flipped the car over trying to negotiate the curve. The car was totaled, but Brian was okay. That was ten years ago. He has not driven since.
Right before Christmas, Harry and David's, the big mail-order company, put a new computer system into service. It had bugs. Hundreds of orders were mixed up. One woman who ordered a large turkey received one large turkey every day for a month. Soon after they started arriving, she called the company, and they told her that they were overwhelmed, so she could just keep the turkeys. At first this was great, but after she ran out of freezer space, and after everyone she know got free turkeys, they kept coming. She had to carry them to the trash.
Because Jared lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, he had few options for earning a living. He found an orchard that would sell him a pickup truck full of too-ripe papayas for $25. He figured most of these were still quite edible, and so he could sell them to tourists near the hotels. He bought a load, made a sign and parked his truck. The first day, he made $100 or so, and he was delighted with his new business idea. The second day, all the papayas were becoming too ripe and he only made $50. The third day, it was obvious he couldn't sell any more papayas, even though his truck was still almost entirely full. He tried to bury them in his yard, but after an hour of digging, he had only a small hole. He took them to the dump, but they were not accepting truckloads of produce. They rotted in the back of his truck. Because of the stench, the truck was no longer drivable. I don't know how the story ended, but I'm sure Jared's truck was never completely clean and stink-free again.
A salaried part-time hairdresser who we'll call Joanie went online to set her $1,000 monthly paychecks to go via direct deposit to her joint checking account. Only she got one digit wrong in the account number, and easy mistake to make. Her husband also deposits his paycheck into the checking account, and there was always just enough money. Joanie and her husband just assumed they were spending more than they should. This went on for three years, totaling $36,000 before Joanie decided to see why they weren't spending very much, yet they weren't saving anything. When she discovered the mistake, she contacted the banks involved. All they could do for her was refund the last month's deposit, $1,000. Due to the legal need to protect customers' privacy, the bank won't tell Joanie who got the money. The bank contacted the recipient, but the recipient says the money has been spent, and refuses to give it back. Joanie will never recover her lost $35,000.
An inventor came up with a new kind of fishing reel. Without getting a patent first, he showed it to representatives from a big fishing equipment manufacturing company. The representative politely told him there was no market for his invention. Three months later, he saw his invention in their catalog.
Frederick Hubbard misspelled his name when purchasing a return travel airline ticket. He left one letter out of his name. The airline refused to let him board until he purchased a new ticket that cost $760.
Antonio, a university computer science major, created one of the first music player programs for Mac. With his software, one could play CDs, mp3 files, make playlists, and all the things you'd want from music playing software. He gave it away, along with the source code, so anyone could douwnload it for free. In the documentation, he added that anyone who uses it for commercial purposes needs to contact him to work out a royalty payment. This is very common in the software world. Every programmer hopefully puts notices like this in their software, and these notices are routinely ignored. No one ever actually gets paid any royalties.
A big company came across Antonio's source code, and from it, they made a Windows equivalent, without bothering to contact him. The Windows eqivalent became very popular and made millions of dollars for the company.
A couple of years after graduating, Antonio was wandering aimlessly along the beach, wondering what he was going to do to earn a living. It was a difficult situation for him because he was currently in Hawaii, where there are no high-tech companies, and he didn't have enough money for a plane ticket to the mainland.
A fellow, oddly dressed in a suit and tie, but barefoot, came up to him on the beach and asked his name. The fellow said, "I've been looking for you. I'm a lawyer and I can make you a lot of money." He had Antonio sign some papers, then promptly sued the company that stole the software.
Several months later, Antonio had 1.5 million dollars. He helped some friends start a restaurant. He bought very expensive guitars and musical equipment. He spent a some money on drugs. In one of his drug pursuits, he tried some 'magic mushrooms' that turned out to be not magical at all. Instead, they made him sick. Very sick. He spent a lot of money on his recovery. Two years after the lawyer found him, the money was all gone. He was wandering aimlessly on the beach again, wondering what he was going to do to earn a living.
In Rochester New York, a new skyscraper was built for Xerox Corporation. Upon completion, it was time to fill the fourth floor executive swimming pool. But a janitor held up progress. He had a feeling that the weight of the water was too much for the building to support. The architects checked, and sure enough, they hadn't accounted for the water. If he had opened the valve to fill the pool as instructed, the building would have come crashing down. The fourth floor now has an executive ice skating rink.
In the year 1675 King Charles hired a man for a big job. John Flamsteed life's work was to make a catalog of stars for ships' navigators. He was a good astronomer, but a hopelessly slow mathematician. When he died, 44 years later, the catalog was not yet finished, but it wouldn't have mattered, because by then navigational technology changed and his system would have been useless.
Noting that after military battles the weather frequently turns rainy, early scientists tried to recreate the effect. The cause of the rain after a battle is that droplets form around the smoke and dust particles in the air. But the early rain makers thought it was because the sky was shocked by the explosions. So they tried to make it rain by shooting cannons into the air or carrying explosives aloft in balloons. Their attempts were horrendously noisy, but mostly unsuccessful.
King Henry VIII of England, long known for his many wives and culinary gluttony, died at age 56, probably from scurvy, a condition of dietary deficiency. It was fashionable in his time for wealthy people to eat mostly meat, and very few vegetables, because 'vegetables were for peasants.'
Before testing the first atomic bomb, some of the scientists working on the Manhattan Project did their best to calculate what might happen. They estimated there was a three percent chance the bomb would set the entire world's atmosphere on fire, instantly killing us all. They went ahead and tested the bomb.
Three days before the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, the Japanese leaders had offered to surrender. The United States refused to meet with the Japanese and went ahead with the bombing. Most historians agree the reason is because the Japanese had offered to surrender before, but then played tricks on the Americans, changing the rules or otherwise obstructing real surrenders.
The first words spoken after the Enola Gay dropped the bomb that killed so many innocent people in Hiroshima, were uttered by the copilot who looked back at the huge mushroom cloud. He said, "My God, what have we done?"
Enola Gay was the name of the pilot's mother.
One time Albert Einstein was jotting down some notes about his thoughts while attending a banquet. Everyone rose in a standing ovation and they were applauding, so Dr. Einstein rose and clapped his hands too. He didn't realize the ovation was for him.
During World War II, Hitler commissioned Ferdinand Porsche, designer of the Volkswagen and many other cars, to design the biggest, heaviest tank possible. The thing was watertight so it could traverse water. It could cross a river, not by floating, but by crawling across the floor of the river. The problem with this tank is that it was so heavy it literally demolished the streets and foundations of nearby buildings as it passed, due to its weight and vibration.
After World War II, Henry Ford was offered the Volkswagen factory for free by the English government, then in charge of Germany's industries. They were looking for someone who could operate the plant, thereby creating hundreds of jobs. Ernest Breech, Ford's chairman of the board, looked the plant over and said, "Mr. Ford, I don't think what we are being offered here is worth a damn!"
He was right in a way. At that time the factory had not yet ever produced more than a few hand-crafted prototypes and the workers could only make cars when it wasn't raining, because large areas of the roof were missing.
Seventeen years later, Volkswagen was producing a car every eight seconds, and Ford could have owned the company.
After marrying a promising young physician in 1867, Carrie Nation was horrified to see her husband destroy his career and his life after only two years. He drank himself to death. Mrs. Nation was so angry and disgusted with alcohol that she smashed up over 30 drinking establishments. This fearsome looking nearly six foot tall, 175 pound woman would enter a bar with such frenzy that all the male patrons ran in fright. She busted all the bottles and much of the furniture with rocks, bricks and a hatchet.
In the mid 1770's David Bushnell, an inventive guy, created the world's first attack submarine. Using whiskey barrel technology, he made a watertight, clam shell-shaped vehicle with barely enough room for one man. The thing, nicknamed the Turtle, was placed in New York Harbor one night containing Sgt. Ezra Lee, a 45 year old man who was stronger than the frail inventor. He had two hand-operated propeller vanes, one for forward travel, the other for directional control.
Sgt. Lee cranked his way toward the British flagship of Admiral Richard Howe, called the Eagle. David Bushnell provided for instrument guidance in the underwater darkness, even though it was 1776 and electric lighting was still 100 years into the future. Inventor Bushnell's solution was ingenious. He lit the primitive instruments, a compass and a depth gauge, with foxfire, a moss that glows in the dark. Still, navigation was difficult, because it was cold in the Turtle, and therefore the foxfire was dim. Ezra Lee missed the battleship entirely and cranked himself out to sea. Realizing his error just in time, he cranked furiously against the tide and finally arrived under the ship. Now it was time to do his dirty work.
The plan was to turn a crank mounted in the ceiling of the Turtle, which would screw an eye-hook into the underside of the Eagle. Attached to the hook was a bomb. After several attempts at attaching the bomb, Ezra finally realized it couldn't be done. The ship was probably coated in copper plating to keep barnacles from growing on the ship, and the hook wouldn't drill into the ship. (Historians are not sure about why the bomb couldn't be attached, this is their theory.)
Dawn was coming, and Sargeant Lee had to get away quickly before he would be discovered. Again, he cranked furiously, but some sailors on the ship saw him. Realizing he was in trouble, he released the bomb, which floated to the surface and blew up harmlessly. But it saved his life. The ship's men had never seen anything like the Turtle and weren't even sure it was a human-invented thing. It might be a monster. After the little explosion, they were truly afraid. And Ezra Lee sailed to harbor, his submarine was opened, and he was safe.
This was the first and last submarine voyage of the eighteenth century. David Bushnell was quite fascinated with inventions and explosive things in particular. He devoted his mental efforts to the war, but his creations never made any serious contributions. Once, some soldiers found a strange barrel floating in the water. They rowed out to it in a little boat and pulled it out of the water. On the contraption they found gears turning. This would be unusual by today's standards, but truly weird back in 1776. At about the time they made this observation, the time bomb exploded, killing three of the men and injuring some others. It was supposed to have floated up to a place where several enemy ships were docked and blow them up, but the men intercepted it. This was the only one of Mr. Bushnell's inventions that came anywhere close to working right.
The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were the result of the pranks of a group of teenage girls. Some people of the town started saying that the girls might be "bewitched." When the adults seriously wanted to know who had bewitched them, these girls named about 150 random residents of the community. Twenty-two "witches" were put to death, mostly by hanging.
The man who started the California gold rush, James Marshall, after a first small strike, was able to find no other gold for himself, and died a penniless alcoholic.
One out of every four of the American submariners didn't make it back alive from World War II. Three out of four of the German submariners didn't make it back alive.
One out of every four women fail in business. Four of every five men fail in business.
The Franklin stove as we know it today is a fireplace with cast iron doors. This is not the woodstove that Ben invented. His version has disappeared from modern times. It was an airtight, which is more efficient than most of the stoves used at that time. But, his invention was so complex and awkward to light that it never gained much favor in American homes.
It looked somewhat like an egg on a pedestal. The air came in through vents in the top of the egg, passed downward through the wood fire, and was sucked out the bottom, which was connected to the chimney through pipes running under the floor. This design caused almost total combustion of the wood, which most stoves cannot do, and the pipes under the floor warmed the floor, which was pleasant and efficient. The problem was that the system had to be warmed gradually in order to get the necessary draft or suction sufficient to avoid smoking up the whole house.
Ben claimed that the servants were too stupid to manage it. He was reluctant to say that maybe his design was just too cumbersome.
When plans were required for a new house of government, Ben Franklin was given a crack at the architect's job, but his design was rejected. It was just too offbeat. He had planned to hook all the seats in the meeting room to the fireplace chimney. The bottoms of the seats would have many small holes. The draft from the chimney would create a slight suction at these holes in the seats, carrying away what he called "personal odors."
In 1946 a test pilot lost control of his plywood airplane over Beverly Hills, California and plowed into a neighborhood, damaging a few houses. The test pilot was billionaire Howard Hughes.
Howard Hughes became so compulsive about germs that he used to spend hours swabbing his arms over and over again with rubbing alcohol.
Although Howard Hughes had fifteen personal attendants and three doctors on full-time duty, he died of neglect and malnutrition, caused by his intense desire to be left alone.
Howard Hughes never once attended a board of directors meeting, or any sort of meeting at any of the companies he owned.
When the Prince of Wales visited Niagara Falls, he tried to talk people into letting him ride across the falls on a high wire in a wheelbarrow. Evidently the local authorities refused to let him do it.
When the scientist Nikola Tesla started messing around with the newly discovered X-rays, he considered them beneficial for the human brain, and spent sessions of as long as forty minutes x-raying his head.
W.C. Fields used to open savings accounts everywhere he went. He put over one million dollars in 700 different banks. He couldn't remember where many of his accounts were.
Fifty percent of the people who are killed by bombs are the people who were trying to make or set the bombs.
It is possible that a single pig caused the American War of 1812. This pig was always getting into the neighbor's yard and eating up prized shrubs and flowers. Finally the neighbor got mad and killed the pig with a pitchfork. The pig's killer was a congressional candidate who lost the election by one vote. This was the vote cast against him by the late pig's owner presumably because he was upset about the loss of his pig. When the matter of deciding about the war was voted upon, the issue passed by one vote. This was the vote of the opposing candidate who had won the election by one vote.
Frank hit some particularly bumpy railroad tracks 26 miles outside of his home in New York City at three in the morning. This broke an engine mount. Sometimes when an engine mount breaks, the car still works, but the shift mechanism is out of whack. That's what happened with Frank's car. His shifter would only let him shift into reverse. So, he started driving backward. He went more than 25 miles in reverse before a police officer stopped him. He was three blocks from home.
A woman in England had to take her driving test 41 times before she was awarded a license to drive. It sounds to me like the only time she got to practice was when she was taking her test. That's one way to get driving lessons without paying for them. I'd say the examiner got taken for a ride.
In 2009, Herlinda Garcia, a mother of four young children in Texas, was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She underwent months of grueling chemotherapy, gave away her belongings, prepared her children as best she could, and made the arrangements one makes who is going to die. Only thing was, the doctor misread the test. She was completely healthy.
A surgeon used epinephrine to reduce bleeding in a 35 year old Wisconsin mother of four who was undergoing a simple procedure in 2010 to remove some abnormal tissue. The problem was that the surgeon gave her an injection in which the dosage was at least 100 times higher than it was supposed to be. Her heart went wild, her lungs filled with fluid, and she died right there on the table. The doctor was fined $1,200.
Also in Wisconsin, a surgeon used a new tool with which he had no training to remove the spleen from a six year old girl. The tool ran amuck in his hands, chopping nearby important blood vessels and part of the girl's intestine. By the time the abdominal damages were fixed, the child suffered permanent brain damage.
In 2010, a Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus animal trainer lost control of a zebra who escaped and ran confused and frenzied among freeway traffic in downtown Atlanta, Georgia for approximately forty minutes. The zebra was captured and returned to the circus, unharmed except for some minor cuts.
Montecore, a six year old full grown tiger, made a mistake that caused 267 people to lose their jobs. Montecore was a performing tiger with Seigfried and Roy, the famous magicians in Las Vegas. One evening in their performance, something went wrong. No one is sure whether the tiger directly attacked Roy or whether Montecore was trying to protect Roy after a fall. Montecore bit Roy on the neck and tried to carry him, the way a tiger would move a kitten. But Roy didn't have the strong neck skin and fur of a tiger cub, so it didn't work out right. Roy lost a lot of blood, and suffered a disabling stroke during hospitalization. The long-running show was canceled, resulting in the lost jobs and a loss of more than fifty million dollars per year in show revenues.
Amanda's friend hitched up the trailer to her SUV just outside Rochester, Minnesota. It didn't matter that the safety clip was missing from the bottom of the hitch pin. And one little safety chain was enough, right? It isn't like she was going on a world tour. Just a few miles. Whatever, right? Amanda didn't bother to check her friend's work. She just got in her car and started driving. On the freeway, the trailer broke loose. It went rolling at sixty miles per hour across the grass to the oncoming lanes, and struck another SUV head on, instantly killing the driver and his three year old daughter, Isabelle.
The law is not on Amanda's side. Turns out, the driver is responsible for a trailer or anything else attached to a car. 394 people per year are killed in America due to runaway trailers.
A police officer stopped a car in Jackson, Mississippi because the car was weaving. The driver was blind and was being guided by a passenger who was drunk.
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