Levi Hutchins of Concord, New Hampshire, invented the first alarm clock in 1787. It only rang at 4 A.M. because that’s what time he got up.
William Morgan, a student of basketball inventor James Naismith, invented a sport of his own: volleyball.
The shallow Champagne glass originated from a mold taken from the bust of Marie Antoinette
The Ice Cream cone was invented in the summer of 1904 by Charles Menches. It made its debut one year later at the St. Louis World Fair.
Approximately 60% of the water used by households during the summer is used for watering flowers and lawns.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s mother’s maiden name was “Moon.” Buzz was the second man to step onto the Moon in 1969.
The term “mayday” used for signaling for help (after SOS) comes from the French “M’aidez” which is pronounced “MAYDAY” and means, “Help Me.”
The word “maverick” came into use after Samuel Maverick, a Texan, refused to brand his cattle. Eventually any unbranded calf became known as a Maverick
There was no punctuation until the 15th century.
For 47 days in 1961, the painting “Matisse’s Le Bateau (The Boat)” was hanging upside down in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Apparently none of the over 116,000 visitors seem to have noticed.
Lead poisoning has been blamed for contributing to the fall of the Roman Empire. Women became infertile by drinking wine from vessels whose lead had dissolved in the wine, and the Roman upper classes died out within a couple centuries. The Romans used lead as a sweetening agent and as a cure for diarrhea. It added up to massive self-inflicted poisoning.
Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine
American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class.
Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Chan look alike contest
The Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from public libraries.
You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.
Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.
Apples are more efficient than caffeine in waking you up in the morning
47.2% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.
Elephants are the only land mammals that can’t jump.
Your foot is nearly the same length as your forearm as measured from the inside of the elbow to the wrist
Spiral staircases in medieval castles turn right as they ascend. This was so that (right-handed) knights defending the castle could more easily combat invading foes who were climbing the stairs.
The day after October 4, 1582 was October 15, 1582.
The ammunition belts in WWII aircraft were 27 feet long, reminiscent of the expression “the whole nine yards”.
The term “dodger” (from the Brooklyn Dodgers, now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers) was a shortened form of “trolley dodgers,” which described Brooklynites for their ability to avoid being hit by trolley cars.
The continents names all end with the same letter with which they start.
In ancient Greece, women counted their age from the date on which they were married, not from the date of their birth date a tradition many women appear to follow today.
Before they hit it big in show business, Carol Burnett sold handbags in a shoe store, Ellen DeGeneres sold vacuum cleaners, David Hyde Pierce sold clothing, Jerry Seinfeld sold light bulbs, and Jerry Van Dyke sold Bibles. One of the icons of stand-up comedy, Rodney Dangerfield, sold aluminum siding to put food on the table.
In the northeastern part of Nigeria, surrounded by mountains, there is a small village called Hong.
The tribes living there are the Kilba’s.
It is the best time of the year when all the crops have been harvested and brought home from the farm. The main crops of this village are maize, guinea corn, and groundnuts. The men, women, and children usually peel the groundnuts by hand.
After supper, the men roll their mats or their sheepskins under their arms and carry lantern lamps making sure that the lamps have enough kerosene. They also have a sack with a small portion of groundnuts, which are supposed to be peeled for that night. Some men go to the marketplace, while others stay in small groups nearby if their houses are too far from the marketplace. They sit to discuss the issues of the day and to peel their groundnuts.
The women and children stay in groups outside the houses. Each woman brings with her a small portion of groundnuts which she and her children will peel for the night.
Children always ask the grown-ups to tell them folk tales while they are peeling.
One evening, Dada Rabi who was one of the oldest in the group, decided to tell them a story. Wetting her groundnuts so that the shell will become softer and easier to peel, she settled herself comfortably, with her bony back leaning against a wall.
The other women and children sat down and prepared themselves to listen. Dada Rabi seeing how interested everyone was, smiled and cleared her voice and then she started….
“There once was a man who had two wives and three children. The first and eldest of the wives was Zainab. She had one son, Aminu, who was the eldest of the three children, and one daughter Amina. The second and younger wife, Hauwa, had one daughter and she was called Lumbi.
Zainab, the first wife became ill with an illness from which she was never to recover. After some days of struggling against the illness. Zainab died. Her two children, Aminu and Amina, were entrusted to the care of Hauwa, the younger wife.
Huawa unfortunately, proved herself a selfish and unfair woman, since she favored only her own daughter, Lumbi. The stepchildren, Amina and Aminu were kept busy with chores. Each morning, Huawa, the stepmother, sent Amina to fetch water from the stream and to the woods to collect wood for fire. Aminu the stepson was expected to go and cut hay for the animals.
One day after Lumbi, the favored child had eaten, Aminu and Amina as usual, were only then allowed to eat. Their portion was only what remained as Lumbi’s leftovers. Upon finishing her food, Amina approached the water pot to drink, but before the cup’s rim reached her mouth, her stepmother snatched the cup from her hand.
‘How dare you touch the cup that my daughter drinks from with your dirty hands? Go to the stream and drink from there!’
‘But I am very thirsty,’ cried Amina.
‘I don’t care, you might be dying, but you cannot drink from this water pot!’ screamed Huawa.
Amina saw the mounting anger in her stepmother’s eyes and resigned herself to going to the stream for a drink of water.
At the stream, Amina was about to drink some water when the orange tree in a voice so weak that Amina could barely hear cried, ‘Please save me. Haven’t had a drink all day, and as you can see it is a very hot day today.’Amina, instead of taking the cup to her mouth for a drink, decided to give the orange tree a drink first. In return, the tree said, ‘May God bless you with my sweetness and deny you my sourness.’
Again, as Amina bent to get water, the guava tree, the mango tree, the banana tree, and the paw paw trees all begged for a drink. Amina gave each of the trees a drink before she finally took a drink for herself. In return, each of the trees blessed her with their sweetness.
When Amina arrived home, her stepmother asked if she had satisfied her thirst. As soon as Amina opened her mouth to say, ‘Yes I did’, a piece of gold fell from her mouth as a blessing from the fruit trees.
Amazed, and in shock, the stepmother asked Amina what had happened at the stream. Amina narrated the whole story about the fruit trees to her stepmother.
Huawa wanted her daughter, Lumbi to receive the same blessing. The next day, after Lumbi had finished eating dinner and handed her leftovers to Amina and Aminu, Lumbi headed to the water pot to drink. Her mother told her that she could not drink from the pot that day, and further that she should go to the stream for a drink of water.
Lumbi stared at her mother in shock, wondering why for the first time her mother wanted her to drink at the stream instead of from the usual water pot. ‘Mother’, protested Lumbi. ‘You have never sent me to the stream before!’
‘Just go!’ screamed her mother. Lumbi reluctantly went to the stream to drink some water. When she got to the stream, the orange tree cried out for Lumbi to give him a drink of water. ‘I haven’t had a drink all day and it is very hot’.
Lumbi looked at the orange tree. ‘I beg your pardon. I met you here and you want me to give you a drink of water, you must be out of your mind.’
All of the other fruit trees also pleaded with Lumbi for a drink of water. She denied them all and in return, each cursed her with their bitterness and denied her their sweetness.
When Lumbi returned home, her mother asked if she had the drink, and as Lumbi opened her mouth to reply, worms fell from her mouth. Huawa was shocked and she started to cry.
Meanwhile, Aminu, the son and Amina’s brother had befriended the prince of that village and had already told the prince about his sister, who whenever she spoke pieces of gold fell from her mouth. The prince became determined to marry no other than Amina, his friend’s sister. The prince told his father, the chief, and a date was set for the wedding ceremonies.
As the wedding day was approaching, so were Huawa’s plans to destroy her stepdaughter and prevent her from marrying the prince. Huawa went to a very powerful medicine man and told him that she wanted to get rid of Amina and substitute her own daughter for Amina during the wedding. The medicine man gave Huawa a charm and told her to plait the charm into Amina’s hair on the day of the wedding.
On the day of the wedding, Huawa announced that she would plait Amina’s hair. While doing so, she also weaved the charm given by the medicine man into Amina’s hair. When Huawa finished braiding Amina’s hair, Amina turned into a bird and flew into the forest.
Huawa then took her own daughter , Lumbi to the prince’s room and warned the daughter not to speak to anyone except the prince himself.
After the wedding ceremony, when all the guests had gone, the prince went to his room to meet his bride for the first time. He spoke to her but as soon as she opened her mouth to reply, worms fell out.
The prince started to scream and the whole village began to gather, staring and crowding to see what was happening.
They were told that Aminu had lied and tried to deceive the prince about his sister, from whose mouth worms and not gold fell.
The chief immediately sent his armed guards to bring Aminu before him. When Aminu was brought before the chief, he was not given a chance to explain himself because the chief had no time to listen to commoners, especially those that dare lie to a chief. The chief asked his men to take Aminu into the deepest forest, where there is no other living creature and to leave him there for seven days. After seven days, the whole village would go there to witness his execution.
Aminu was given an axe and led to a large portion of land on which he was to cut down the trees and clear the land for his own public execution seven days hence. Aminu was left alone in that forest. Fortunately, Amina, his own sister who had turned into a bird was there, singing to him as he chopped down the trees. Aminu continued to chop and clear the land and the bird never stopped singing.
On the seventh day, the day of the execution, the chief and his advisors and all of the villagers gathered to witness the execution of Aminu. He had but one more tree to chop down. The bird landed on that tree and as Aminu swung his axe, the bird began to sing.
The chief, his advisors and the townspeople could not believe their ears. The bird sang beautifully and furthermore, they did not believe a bird could live so far in the thick forest and survive alone for so long. The chief’s special medicine man held his palm open and began to chant. The bird flew and landed on his open palm. The medicine man was amazed to see that the bird’s head had corn rows and when he loosed the braids, a charm dropped from the feathers and there was Amina–back to normal.
The chief demanded to know her story and when she opened her mouth to tell what had happened, pieces of gold began to fall from her mouth.
Aminu immediately recognized his sister, dropped his axe and ran to hug her. They stood there hugging each other and crying.
The chief asked both to narrate their story for the village. After the story was told, the chief asked what type of justice they wanted to see against their stepmother. Both Amina and Aminu decided to forgive their stepmother.
The chief however stated that this evil deed must never go unpunished. Since the whole village had gathered there to witness Aminu’s execution, Huawa and her daughter Lumbi were among the villagers and both were dragged from among the crowd and executed instead of Aminu.
A new date was set for the wedding between the prince and Amina. Her brother Aminu became one of the chief’s trusted advisors.”
Dada Rabi came to the end of her story. Everyone was silent, and she turned around to see who was still awake. Except for the very young children who had already fallen asleep and were using their mothers’ laps as pillows, all the others were still awake. Dada Rabi smiled. No one moved or said anything for a few minutes. The children were trying to digest the lesson that had been taught that night.
Dada Rabi attempted to stand up but was having some difficulty. Two women assisted her to her feet and another woman handed Dada Rabi her walking stick. Everyone took turns to say, “Say da safe Dada Rabi”, which means ‘Til morning, Dada Rabi.’ in reply she says, “Alla ya bamu alheri”, which means “May God show us His blessings.” Showing blessings means to allow us to live for the next day.
One of the women reminded the others that it was late. Some of the women began gathering the peanut shells with their hands to clean the veranda. They dared not use a broom at this time of night because it would disturb the spirits.
Everyone started getting ready to retire for the evening. The men were also coming back from the marketplace carrying their peeled groundnuts in their sacks along with their mats or sheepskins and their lamps. The lamps now were almost empty.
The men are always the last in so that they can lock the gates to their houses as this is the responsibility of the men.
Navy SEAL Commander Tells Students To Make Their Beds Every Morning In Incredible Commencement Speech
University of Texas (UT) alum Admiral William H. McRaven gives students the “hook ’em horns” at the university’s commencement last year.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, California.
Basic SEAL training is six months of long torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacles courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.
But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships.
To me basic SEAL training was a life time of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are the Ten Lesson’s I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.
Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Viet Nam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed.
If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task—mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that were aspiring to be real warriors,
tough battle hardened SEALs—but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.
By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy.
Every day your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surf zone and paddle several miles down the coast.
In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in.
Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help— and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the good will of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class which started with 150 men was down to just 35. There were now six boat crews of seven men each.
I was in the boat with the tall guys, but the best boat crew we had was made up of the little guys—the munchkin crew we called them—no one was over about 5-foot five.
The munchkin boat crew had one American Indian, one African American, one Polish America, one Greek American, one Italian American, and two tough kids from the mid-west.
They out paddled, out-ran, and out swam all the other boat crews.
The big men in the other boat crews would always make good natured fun of the tiny little flippers the munchkins put on their tiny little feet prior to every swim.
But somehow these little guys, from every corner of the Nation and the world, always had the last laugh— swimmingfaster than everyone and reaching the shore long before the rest of us.
SEAL training was a great equalizer. Nothing mattered but your will to succeed. Not your color, not your ethnic background, not your education and not your social status.
If you want to change the world, measure a person by the size of their heart, not the size of their flippers.
Several times a week, the instructors would line up the class and do a uniform inspection. It was exceptionally thorough.
Your hat had to be perfectly starched, your uniform immaculately pressed and your belt buckle shiny and void of any smudges.
But it seemed that no matter how much effort you put into starching your hat, or pressing your uniform or polishing your belt buckle— it just wasn’t good enough.
The instructors would find “something” wrong.
For failing the uniform inspection, the student had to run, fully clothed into the surf zone and then, wet from head to toe, roll around on the beach until every part of your body was covered with sand.
The effect was known as a “sugar cookie.” You stayed in that uniform the rest of the day—cold, wet and sandy.
There were many a student who just couldn’t accept the fact that all their effort was in vain. That no matter how hard they tried to get the uniform right—it was unappreciated.
Those students didn’t make it through training.
Those students didn’t understand the purpose of the drill. You were never going to succeed. You were never going to have a perfect uniform.
Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie.
It’s just the way life is sometimes.
If you want to change the world get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
Every day during training you were challenged with multiple physical events—long runs, long swims, obstacle courses, hours of calisthenics—something designed to test your mettle.
Every event had standards—times you had to meet. If you failed to meet those standards your name was posted on a list and at the end of the day those on the list were invited to—a “circus.”
A circus was two hours of additional calisthenics—designed to wear you down, to break your spirit, to force you to quit.
No one wanted a circus.
A circus meant that for that day you didn’t measure up. A circus meant more fatigue—and more fatigue meant that the following day would be more difficult—and more circuses were likely.
But at some time during SEAL training, everyone—everyone—made the circus list.
But an interesting thing happened to those who were constantly on the list. Overtime those students—who did two hours of extra calisthenics—got stronger and stronger.
The pain of the circuses built inner strength-built physical resiliency.
Life is filled with circuses.
You will fail. You will likely fail often. It will be painful. It will be discouraging. At times it will test you to your very core.
But if you want to change the world, don’t be afraid of the circuses.
At least twice a week, the trainees were required to run the obstacle course. The obstacle course contained 25 obstacles including a 10-foot high wall, a 30-foot cargo net, and a barbed wire crawl to name a few.
But the most challenging obstacle was the slide for life. It had a three level 30 foot tower at one end and a one level tower at the other. In between was a 200-foot long rope.
You had to climb the three tiered tower and once at the top, you grabbed the rope, swung underneath the rope and pulled yourself hand over hand until you got to the other end.
The record for the obstacle course had stood for years when my class began training in 1977.
The record seemed unbeatable, until one day, a student decided to go down the slide for life—head first.
Instead of swinging his body underneath the rope and inching his way down, he bravely mounted the TOP of the rope and thrust himself forward.
It was a dangerous move—seemingly foolish, and fraught with risk. Failure could mean injury and being dropped from the training.
Without hesitation—the student slid down the rope—perilously fast, instead of several minutes, it only took him half that time and by the end of the course he had broken the record.
If you want to change the world sometimes you have to slide down the obstacle head first.
During the land warfare phase of training, the students are flown out to San Clemente Island which lies off the coast of San Diego.
The waters off San Clemente are a breeding ground for the great white sharks. To pass SEAL training there are a series of long swims that must be completed. One—is the night swim.
Before the swim the instructors joyfully brief the trainees on all the species of sharks that inhabit the waters off San Clemente.
They assure you, however, that no student has ever been eaten by a shark—at least not recently.
But, you are also taught that if a shark begins to circle your position—stand your ground. Do not swim away. Do not act afraid.
And if the shark, hungry for a midnight snack, darts towards you—then summons up all your strength and punch him in the snout and he will turn and swim away.
There are a lot of sharks in the world. If you hope to complete the swim you will have to deal with them.
So, If you want to change the world, don’t back down from the sharks.
As Navy SEALs one of our jobs is to conduct underwater attacks against enemy shipping. We practiced this technique extensively during basic training.
The ship attack mission is where a pair of SEAL divers is dropped off outside an enemy harbor and then swims well over two miles—underwater—using nothing but a depth gauge and a compass to get to their target.
During the entire swim, even well below the surface there is some light that comes through. It is comforting to know that there is open water above you.
But as you approach the ship, which is tied to a pier, the light begins to fade. The steel structure of the ship blocks the moonlight—it blocks the surrounding street lamps—it blocks all ambient light.
To be successful in your mission, you have to swim under the ship and find the keel—the centerline and the deepest part of the ship.
This is your objective. But the keel is also the darkest part of the ship—where you cannot see your hand in front of your face, where the noise from the ship’s machinery is deafening and where it is easy to get disoriented and fail.
Every SEAL knows that under the keel, at the darkest moment of the mission—is the time when you must be calm, composed—when all your tactical skills, your physical power and all your inner strength must be brought to bear.
If you want to change the world, you must be your very best in the darkest moment.
The ninth week of training is referred to as “Hell Week.” It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and—one special day at the Mud Flats—the Mud Flats are area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slue’s—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.
It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure to quit from the instructors.
As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud.
The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we could leave the mud if only five men would quit—just five men and we could get out of the oppressive cold.
Looking around the mud flat it was apparent that some students were about to give up. It was still over eight hours till the sun came up—eight more hours of bone chilling cold.
The chattering teeth and shivering moans of the trainees were so loud it was hard to hear anything and then, one voice began to echo through the night—one voice raised in song.
The song was terribly out of tune, but sung with great enthusiasm.
One voice became two and two became three and before long everyone in the class was singing.
We knew that if one man could rise above the misery then others could as well.
The instructors threatened us with more time in the mud if we kept up the singing—but the singing persisted.
And somehow—the mud seemed a little warmer, the wind a little tamer and the dawn not so far away.
If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person—Washington, Lincoln, King, Mandela and even a young girl from Pakistan—Malala—one person can change the world by giving people hope.
So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
Finally, in SEAL training there is a bell. A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see.
All you have to do to quit—is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims.
Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the runs, the obstacle course, the PT—and you no longer have to endure the hardships of training.
Just ring the bell.
If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.
You are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life. Moments away starting to change the world—for the better.
It will not be easy.
But, YOU are the class of 2014—the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next Century.
Start each day with a task completed.
Find someone to help you through life.
Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up—if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and—what started here will indeed have changed the world—for the better.
Thank you very much. Hook ’em horns.
US Navy admiral and UT, Austin, alumnus William H. McRaven who is a former commander of the US Special Operations Command that organized the Osama bin Laden raid. McRaven has now taken over as Chancellor of the University of Texas System.