Saturday, December 10, 2022



Some miscellaneous items of interest . . . 


Cathay Williams (1844 – 1893) was an African-American woman who was the first to serve in the U.S. army. Since women were barred from joining the military at the time, in 1866 she enlisted as a man under the pseudonym William Cathay. She was the first Black woman to enlist, and the only documented woman to serve in the United States Army posing as a man during the American Indian Wars.

Shortly after her enlistment, Williams contracted smallpox, was hospitalized and later rejoined her unit, which by then was posted in New Mexico. Possibly due to the effects of smallpox, the New Mexico heat, or the cumulative effects of years of marching, her body began to show signs of strain. She was frequently hospitalized. The post surgeon finally discovered she was a woman, and informed the post commander. She was discharged from the Army on October 14, 1868.


The Spanish lollipop “Chupa Chups” sells in over 150 countries and can be recognised by the yellow and red bloom-like swirl, with the cursive words “Chupa Chups” in the middle.

The brand was founded in 1958 by Enric Bernat who got the idea of his lollipops from him getting sticky hands from melting sweets. Bernat felt that at that time, sweets were not designed for children. Shopkeepers were instructed to place Chupa Chups near the cash register within reach of children's hands, instead of the usual placement behind the counter. The Chupa Chups company was a success. Within five years, Bernat's sweets were being sold at 300,000 outlets.

In 1995, Chupa Chups became the first candy sent to the Mir space station.

The Chupa Chups logo was designed in 1969 by the surrealist artist Salvador DalĂ­, who also suggested that the logoi be placed at the top of the wrapper to increase visibility


The guillotine was invented in order to make capital punishment less painful in accordance with new Enlightenment ideals about human rights. Prior to the guillotine, France had used manual beheading alongside a variety of methods of execution, many of which were more gruesome and required a high level of precision and skill to carry out successfully.

After its adoption, the device remained France's standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981. The last person to be executed in France was Hamida Djandoubi, guillotined on 10 September 1977.

Djandoubi was convicted of the kidnap and murder of a 22 year old female. He was the last person to be executed in Western Europe, and also the last person to be lawfully executed by beheading anywhere in the Western world, although he was not the last person sentenced to death in France.

Hamida Djandoubi, 1977


In 2013 on the anniversary of its landing on Mars, Curiosity rover was transmitted signalled instructions by NASA to hum Happy Birthday to itself, the first time this song was performed on another planet.


The city of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, hosts the cockroach racing world championship.

Cockroach racing is a club gambling activity which started in 1982 at the Story Bridge Hotel in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The event is held on 26 January, Australia Day, and is given the title "Australia Day Cockroach Races". This type of racing has spread to many parts of the world including the United States. In North America, cockroach racing has recently become a popular feature for money, prizes, or just for its entertainment value.

In the first-ever event held in 1982, the winning cockroach was called 'Soft Cocky'. The background to the starting of this race is attributed to two bar buffs who boasted that the cockroaches of their area were the fastest in Brisbane. They tested the validity of their claims in a parking lot.

Every year, seven such events are held in Australia, which is known as the sprint, the steeplechase and main event held at the Story Bridge Hotel called the Gold Cup event. The race arena is a 6 metres (20 ft) ring. The roaches kept in glass bottles are let out in the middle of the ring. The cockroach which reaches the edge of the ring first is declared a winner.

The winners listed so far in the Hall of Fame of this Australian event are unusual names such as "Soft Cocky, Cocky Balboa, Cocky Dundee, Drain Lover, and Priscila-Queen of the Drains".


Before his death in 1990, famous author Roald Dahl confided to a friend that when he was 6 years of age, he persuaded his mother to take him to the farmhouse of his hero and creator of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter, who was then aged 80. He idolised her and her stories and wanted to see where she lived.

Arriving at the farmhouse in the Lake District in Northern England, Dahl recognised it from her stories. He saw an old woman in her garden. She said to him, ‘What do you want?’ He said, ‘I’ve come to meet Beatrix Potter’ and she said ‘Well, you’ve seen her. Now buzz off!’

Dahl’s wife confirmed the story as true and that Beatrix Potter was quite grumpy and not fond of children.


Elderly Beatrix Potter

Young Roald Dahl


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