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Facts that may help you become a #8216;Millionaire#039;

Unless you've been hiding under a rock the past few years or simply don't own a television, you've probably watched &#8220Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” a time or two. The show, where contestants answer trivia questions about subjects ranging from astrology to zoology, is a celebration of all the useless trivia that you can possibly stand.

The game show, which is now syndicated and hosted by Meredith Viera, the soon-to-be new host of the &#8220Today Show,” has always been one of my favorites simply because it tests the mind and teaches you about the world around you at the same time. In today's world of reality TV where people eat bugs (and worse) for prizes, the cerebral show actually serves a purpose.

So in the spirit of &#8220Millionaire” I thought I'd pass along some little known facts in case you wanted to bone up for an appearance on the show. By the way, if you make the cut and one of these questions comes up I'll volunteer to be your lifeline.

n In Shakespeare's time mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened making the bed firmer to sleep on. That's where the phrase, &#8220goodnight, sleep tight” came from.

n The sentence &#8220The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” uses every letter in the alphabet. It was developed by Western Union to test telex/twx communications.

n When opossums are playing ‘possum', they are not &#8220playing.” They actually pass out from sheer terror.

n The Main Library at Indiana University sinks over an inch every year because when it was built, engineers failed to take into account the weight of all the books that would occupy the building.

n The term &#8220the whole 9 yards” came from WWII fighter pilots in the Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet (9 yards). If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got &#8220the whole 9 yards.”

n The phrase &#8220rule of thumb” is derived from an old English law that stated you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

n An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.

n The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the &#8220General Purpose” vehicle, G.P.

n The cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II moves only six inches for each gallon of diesel that it burns. I don't want to think about what it costs to run the liner at today's gas prices.

n Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.

n No NFL team that plays its home games in a domed stadium has ever won a Super Bowl.

n The first toilet ever seen on television was on &#8220Leave It to Beaver.”

n Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.

n In Cleveland, Ohio, it's illegal to catch mice without a hunting license.

n It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather for a year's supply of footballs.

n There are an average of 178 sesame seeds on a McDonald's Big Mac bun.

n The world's termites outweigh the world's humans 10 to 1.

n The three most valuable brand names on earth in order from 1-3 are Coca-Cola, Microsoft and IBM.

n Ten percent of the Russian government's income comes from the sale of vodka.

n On average, 100 people choke to death on ballpoint pens every year.

n It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink.

Mead is a honey beer, and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the &#8220honey month” or what we know today as the &#8220honeymoon.”

n Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. &#8220Wet your whistle,” is the phrase inspired by this practice.

Dennis Palmer is publisher of The Greenville Advocate. His column appears each Wednesday. He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 125 or by email: dennis.palmer@greenvilleadvocate.com.