Did you Know? (Cockroach Edition)

That 300 million year old fossilized cockroaches have been found?

This means they were on earth 100 million years before the dinosaurs! I found this information in the book 501 ½ Horrible Facts.

This information is also in the book Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity by Stephen Marshall. It is hard not to admire a creature that has that kind of tenacity! Cockroaches are in the order of Blattodea.

“La Cucaracha” is a Mexican song that almost everyone knows. It is a cute song about a little cockroach that is missing a leg, but she only wants to dance. Check out World Sing-along by Putamayo Kids to listen to a fun version of it.

Night of the Living Dead is a zombie movie, but a cockroach can live for a week without its head before if finally dies of thirst. Nature’s Minibeasts: Cockroaches by Clint Twist has a whole page of cockroach facts. I think I would still rather encounter headless cockroaches than zombies!

100 million years ago was during the Cretaceous period. Asteroid Impact by Doug Henderson tells how during that period an asteroid impacted the earth and caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. It tells us that many living things were able to survive and the cockroaches, being hearty little critters, were among them.

Did You Know? (Thorn Edition)

Roses have prickles and not thorns?

A thorn is a sharp modified stem that grows out of the woody stems of many kinds of trees and shrubs such as honey locust and hawthorn with a short growth period that ends with a formation of a sharp, hardened tip. Prickles, which grow on roses, are simple outgrowths of the surface of the stem and spines are the thorn-like structures that are actually modified leaves on plants such as cactus, black locust and barberry. I found this in Volume 19, for the letter T, of the 2017 World Book Encyclopedia.

Ortho’s All about Roses will tell you about the planting, pruning, feeding and selection of the best roses for your gardening needs. It also has plenty of informative pictures of proper pruning as well as information about possible insect damage and control.

Encyclopedia of Roses by Charles & Brigid Quest-Ritson is just that, over 2000 beautiful pictures of different roses including information on hardiness zones, sizes and scents. The Rose: A True History by Jennifer Potter, a horticultural historian, gives us the history of the ‘Queen of Flowers’ from all over the world. You will know more about roses than you ever thought possible!

Whether it has prickles, thorns or spines, many plants make great decorations. Beautiful Winter by Edle Catharina Norman and Branches and Blooms by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo both have some beautiful ideas for wreaths, garlands and table decorations using all sorts of branches, flowers and natural materials.

Thorns, prickles, and spines are confusing enough, but let us add spikes to the mix! Dracaena, or spike plant, was traditionally considered a houseplant for years. However, it is finding favor in annual container gardens where the spiky upright leaves provide height and textural contrast to bushy and cascading annual flowers.

A prickle also describes an experience of a tingling sensation, especially as a result of strong emotion or to have a creeping sensation. Oh! I think just reading that gave me a prickle up my spine! Mr. Prickles: a Quill fated Love Story by Kara LaReau is a story about a porcupine with no friends because he is prickly, until he meets Miss Pointypants. There really is someone for everyone!

Did You Know? (Lightning Edition)

That when lightning strikes, the air around it becomes five times hotter than the surface of the sun?

I found this information on page 79 in the book 501 ½ Horrible Facts.

According to Isaac Asimov’s book The Solar System: the Sun the temperature of the sun is about 11,000 ˚F on the surface and about 27,000,000 ˚F at the center. This means that the air around a lightning strike would be about 55,000 Fahrenheit. In other words, there isn’t enough sunscreen on earth to make a trip to the sun possible! The sun is the nearest star to earth. It takes light from the sun about 8 minutes to get to earth, for the next nearest star the light takes over 4 years to get here!

Cumulonimbus clouds are the thunderclouds we see before and during a lightning storm. They are huge masses of air, water, and ice. Inside of these clouds violent air currents cause ice crystals to smash into each other, causing static electricity. Ice crystals at the base of the cloud become negatively charged while the top of the cloud and the ground are positively charged. The difference becomes so great that electricity starts leaping back and forth in the cloud causing sheet lightning or between the cloud and the ground causing fork lightning. I learned this and so much more about all kinds of weather events in the DK book Weather .

Thunder and lightning always reminds me of Zeus, the sky and thunder-god in ancient Greek religion, which makes me think of mythology! Check out one of our mythology books to read stories about gods and goddesses in Greek, Roman and Celtic Mythology.

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle is a nice story about people escaping into a subway to avoid the thunder and lightning from a storm. People share smiles and umbrellas as they all wait out a storm together.

Did You Know (Possum – Opossum Edition)

That possums and opossums are two different animals?

I found this information on page 21 in the book ABCs of Animals by Bobbie Kalman. They belong to different groups of marsupials. The Virginia opossum is the only opossum in North America. Pocket Babies and Other Amazing Marsupials by Sneed B Collard III explains more about the possum/opossum differences, and tells about other marsupials’ habits as well.

‘Playing possum’ is a handy trick these animals have learned to play. Tricky Opossums by Catherine Nichols explains how they can maintain this pose for up to 4 hours, blowing snot bubbles and stinky goo to really enhance their ‘dead-ness.’

While playing possum is considered a trick, it is not a magic trick. For those of you, who want some ‘real’ magic in their lives, check out the book That’s Magic by Richard Jones to learn 40 foolproof tricks!

How many times have we asked ourselves: “Is this real or fake?” (Remember the “Is it live or is it Memorex?” commercials?) For kids, we have the book 100% Pure Fake by Lyn Thomas which gives directions and recipes for some very gross fake-outs… brain pie, scars or blisters, and rotting skin. This book would be very handy for April Fools’ day or Halloween. For musicians there are many different Fake Books by Hal Leonard with melody, lyrics and simplified chords that will help you to easily expand your musical repertoire.

So, the next time you see an opossum cross the road you will know it’s not a possum! And, if it ‘drops dead’ you will know it really isn’t!

Did You Know? (Salary Edition)

That the word salary came from soldiers being paid in salt?

I found this information on page 63 in the book Salt: a World History by Mark Kurlansky. This is also where we get the saying “worth his salt.”

I’m not sure about you, but I prefer my salary to be paid in money! I doubt that I have a single creditor that would take a payment in salt. Salary Tutor by Jim Hopkinson will help you get the most pay possible for your position. While most of the information relates directly to getting a new job, there is a chapter dedicated to helping you get a raise from your current employer.

I remember when I was young, overhearing the adults talking about salaries and wondering why they were talking about celery! I’m not certain that this would be any better than getting paid in salt. I suppose if you had an abundance of celery lying around, you could try the recipe for braised celery in Martha Stewart’s Vegetables book.

While it may not be braised like Martha makes, Amor y apio/ (Love and Celery) is a book about healthy eating while pregnant. This is one reason you would be glad to eat celery!

But, back to ‘green’ that isn’t vegetables. Let’s assume you are actually getting paid in money and not salt….or celery. We have many books on investing, saving and creating a budget with your money. But you have to be careful where you are putting those hard-earned wages! The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to do about It by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig has financial advice we can all use.

You know it’s never too soon to start planning! Kid Millionaire by Matthew Eliot is a great way for young people to get started earning, saving and investing. There are great tips for start-up jobs and games and apps that kids (or adults) can play or use to learn to track their money.

Did You Know? (Cassowary Edition)

That the most dangerous bird on earth is the Southern Cassowary?

National Geographic Angry Birds by Mel White shows 50 birds that you don’t want to mess with. It talks about the cassowaries on page 144. While Cassowaries are the most dangerous bird, the Australian Magpie is rated the angriest bird, dive bombing anyone near their nests.

Birds are living dinosaurs. This is something that serious paleontologists now agree on. Birdology by Sy Montgomery explains this on page 49. He has a very informative chapter on cassowaries, with photos of their deadly feet and dagger sharp claws.

Other birds can appear to be very angry as well… here in the northwest there are crows that dive bomb people when they walk too close to their trees! The PBS documentary DVD A Murder of Crows: Birds with an Attitude and the book In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff both describe this phenomenon and explain the behaviors.

Cassowaries live in New Guinea, northeast Australia and nearby Islands. While they are one of the 10 most dangerous birds on earth, there are other critters in these areas I wouldn’t want to mess with either. As cute as koala bears are, they can be quite vicious, and kangaroos can kick as badly as the cassowaries but without the deadly damage of the claws. The largest predators in Australia are the crocodiles that grow up to 20 feet long, and can pull a grown water buffalo from the banks and drown it!

While cassowary babies are chicks, I wouldn’t mess with them or with Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J Gomez. And you probably shouldn’t confuse them with the very talented musical group the Dixie Chicks either. You wouldn’t want to make those “chicks” angry!

Did You Know? (Bat Edition)

That the bumblebee bat is the world’s smallest mammal?

I found this information on page 175 in the book The Secret Lives of Bats by Merlin Tuttle. The name bumblebee bat is actually a nickname for the Kitti’s hog nosed bat from Myanmar (Burma). It was discovered in 1973-74 and weighs a third less than a United States penny! These bats are only about an inch long.

Bats by Phil Richardson tells about bats’ lifestyles and life cycles. He explains about the different classes of bats and that the Kitti’s hog nosed bat is considered one of the 930 species of ‘microbats.’ This book has excellent photos of many bats. The children’s book Bat Watching by Diane Bair and Pamela Wright has helpful information about removing bats from buildings and where to look for them for viewing. The Magic School Bus DVD has a ‘Going Batty’ episode where you really learn what it is like to be a bat: how they see with sonar, what they eat, and how they take care of their young.

On the other end of the spectrum is the world’s largest (baseball) bat. 1,000 Places to See Before you Die by Patricia Schultz shows the huge baseball bat outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m sure it will be much easier to see than the bumblebee bat, plus you won’t have to travel as far!

Smithsonian Baseball Treasures by Stephen Wong has a very interesting history of baseball bats and other items. For example, in 1885 a flat bat was used to aid in batting techniques like bunting. There is a great photo of Babe Ruth kissing his bats before the start of the World Series September 29, 1926. Combining both kinds of bats is Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies.

Lastly, baseball has a bat boy (or girl), but the world of super heroes has Batman! Here at the library we have The Batman Strikes, Going… Batty! by Bill Matheny. In this exciting graphic novel Batman fights a bad guy that turns into a bat.