Phil Pash’s Up & Down The Rock

Keep It Entertaining: I don’t feel like being too serious today, so here are some factoids sent to me by e-mail (author unknown) to shock and awe you:

n A dime has 118 ridges around the edge.

n A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

n A crocodile cannot stick out its tongue.

n A dragonfly has a lifespan of 24 hours.

n A goldfish has a memory span of three seconds.

n A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time for

1/100th of a second.

n A snail can sleep for three years.

n Al Capone’s business card said he was a used furniture dealer.

n Cats have more than 100 vocal sounds.

n Dogs only have about 10.

n It’s impossible to sneeze with your eyes open.

n Leonardo Da Vinci invented the scissors.

n The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube, and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.

n The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.

n There are more chickens than people in the world.

n If the population of China walked past you, in single file, the line would never end because of the rate of reproduction.

n February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.

n Winston Churchill was born in a ladies’ room during a dance.

n There’s no Betty Rubble in the Flintstones Chewable Vitamins.

n If you are an average American, in your whole life, you will spend an average of six months waiting at red lights.Read deeper into this column for more on red lights, and keep reading every week for the next installment of factoids to shock and awe you.

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Bustling Milwaukee: My wife and I took a run up to Milwaukee last week. Milwaukee always seems to be building something, but this year it seems worse than usual. Construction is everywhere.

And this is going to be a busier than normal summer in “Suds City.” Summerfest, The Big Gig, starts Thursday and continues through July 6 at Maier Festival Park down by the harbor. Daily hours are 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and it will cost $12 to get in this year. But there is music for every taste and other attractions.

Later this summer, “The Hogs Are Coming,” which is another way of saying a Milwaukee institution, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, will be holding its 100th birthday party over the Labor Day weekend.

I read a curious thing about that the other day. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) says motorcycle highway fatalities are running way ahead of last year and fears the numbers could get worse with the Harley bash coming up and thousands of “hogs” pouring into the Milwaukee area.

The DOT said 34 motorcyclists had died as of last week compared with 15 at the same time a year ago. Last year, 81 people died in motorcycle crashes—the most since 96 died in 1988.

No, I’m not orally beating up on motorcyclists, or about not wearing helmets or anything else. If I could afford one and was in better physical shape and not approaching another birthday in the mid-60 range, I’d be out there on a Harley.

One other note: More than 1,800 Harley Owners Group riders showed up for the recent Illinois HOG Rally in Quincy, according to the Quincy Herald-Whig (always loved the name of that paper). The 100th anniversary deal in Milwaukee will be much, much bigger.

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American Hero Cards: Robert Smith & Associates of Rockford says it has been hired by American Art Classics to market the Operation Iraqi Freedom U.S. Military Heroes Playing Cards.

These are not the cards of Iraqi leaders being sought by coalition forces, but rather cards featuring President Bush, Secretary Rumsfeld, leaders at Central Command and photos of aircraft and ships used during the war. A companion deck to the Iraqi deck of 55 cards.

You can see for yourself at

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One More Visit: Before allowing the resignations of The New York Times’ top two editors earlier this month to be committed to history, I have to revisit the story for some of the comments made by newsroom staffers when they learned the pair had resigned.

“I hope things settle down and we get a decent executive editor who’s reasonable,” said one staffer. The words “autocratic” and “overbearing” also were used to describe the executive editor.

Shoot, I thought those were personality traits for all executive editors, that you had to have them to be considered for the job.

And so ends the slim chance I might have had of getting back onto a daily newspaper with an executive editor.

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Red-light Runners: Chicago hired a company called Redflex Traffic Systems of Arizona to see how many times drivers blow through red lights. You can turn right on red in Illinois after coming to a stop. But that frequently is abused.

The president of the Arizona company, Bruce Higgins, told the Chicago Sun-Times he was stunned by the number of violations his firm counted. “People in Chicago appear to run red lights more than elsewhere in the United States,” said Higgins. “The red-light running behavior we observed in Chicago was up to four times that in other states.”

Only four times higher. They ought to set up out here in Rockford. We easily could beat that. But stop signs would have to be counted here.

Every day I see all kinds of special people driving who obviously think stop signs are for the other guy because they just blow right on through. Have you seen any of those special people driving?

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You’ll Be Old, Too: A buddy sent me the following, saying it reminded him of conversations we have had with a third buddy, all of us older than we care to admit:

Three old guys out walking.

First one: “Windy, isn’t it?”

Second one: “No, it’s Thursday.”

Third one: “So am I. Let’s go get a beer.”

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