15 Things You Might Not Know About Connecticut

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1. The word “Connecticut” is an anglicized spelling of the Algonquian word “quinnitukqut,” roughly meaning “at the long tidal river.”

2. Connecticut is officially known as the Constitution State, referring to the state government-establishing Fundamental Orders of Connecticut. Written in 1639, the Fundamental Orders is considered history's first written constitution. Connecticut is also known as the "Nutmeg State." Traditionally, sailors brought the seed back from long voyages and, over time, peddlers from the state developed the reputation for selling fake nutmegs made out of carved wood.

3. Connecticut’s state song is “Yankee Doodle.” The scrappy lyrics to the historic tune allegedly came from a British surgeon named Dr. Richard Shuckburgh who wanted to make fun of the ragged appearance of the state governor’s son, Col. Thomas Fitch V, and his troops during the French and Indian War in 1755.

4. The first telephone book was issued in New Haven, Connecticut, on February 21, 1878, and featured only 50 names. One month earlier, New Haven was responsible for the first telephone exchange, with operators and switchboards to direct incoming and outgoing calls.

5. Connecticut is home to the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, which was built in Groton, Connecticut, in 1954. After her first cast off, the ship signalled the words “Underway on nuclear power.” The sub is now permanently docked in Groton and serves as a museum of submarine history.

6. First started in 1764, Connecticut’s Hartford Courant is the country’s oldest continuously published newspaper. George Washington once placed ads in the paper to lease part of Mount Vernon, and Thomas Jefferson once sued the paper for libel and lost.

7. The famous Revolutionary War traitor, Benedict Arnold, was born in the town of Norwich, Connecticut, in 1741.

8. Connecticut was one of two states (the other being Rhode Island) that decided not to ratify the 18th Amendment, the Amendment that prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol.

9. The Scoville Memorial Library, the country’s oldest publicly funded free library, is located in Salisbury, Connecticut. The library’s collection first began in 1771 when the owner of a local blast furnace named Richard Smith used the money collected from 39 members of the community to buy 200 books in London, England.

10. Mary Dixon Kies, the first woman to be issued a U.S. patent, was born in Killingly, Connecticut. Her patent involved a method she invented for weaving straw with silk for hat-making.

11. In Hartford, flying a kite in the street is specifically banned.

12. The hamburger was invented in New Haven, Connecticut, at a small restaurant called Louis’ Lunch, which is still in business today. The story goes that in 1900, a customer was in a rush and asked owner Louis Lassen for something to eat on the go. Lassen threw together cooked ground steak trimmings and put them between two slices of toasted bread, and the hamburger was born.

13. The first Frisbee, which was nothing more than an empty pie tin, was developed in Connecticut. A man named William Russell Frisbie moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1871 to take over what would become known as the Frisbie Pie Company. Nearby Yale University students found that the tins that held Frisbie’s delectable pies could be flung across rooms with ease, prompting them to exclaim “Frisbie!” to alert the catcher. Eventually, the design was perfected into the plastic flying disc we know today.

14. The first speed limit laws for cars were set in Connecticut in 1901. Drivers were prohibited from going faster than 12 miles per hour.

15. The PEZ Candy Company is based in Orange, Connecticut. The little blocks of sweetness—whose name comes from shortening the letters in the German word “pfefferminz,” or “peppermint”—were first invented in Vienna, Austria, in 1927 and were initially marketed along with their distinctive dispensers as an alternative to smoking.

25 Amazing Facts About the Human Body

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The human body is an amazing piece of machinery—with a few weird quirks.

  1. It’s possible to brush your teeth too aggressively. Doing so can wear down enamel and make teeth sensitive to hot and cold foods.

  2. Goose bumps evolved to make our ancestors’ hair stand up, making them appear more threatening to predators.

Woman's legs with goosebumps
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  1. Wisdom teeth serve no purpose. They’re left over from hundreds of thousands of years ago. As early humans’ brains grew bigger, it reduced space in the mouth, crowding out this third set of molars.

  2. Scientists aren't exactly sure why we yawn, but it may help regulate body temperature.

  3. Your fingernails don’t actually grow after you’re dead.

  4. If they were laid end to end, all of the blood vessels in the human body would encircle the Earth four times.

  5. Humans are the only animals with chins.

    An older woman's chin
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    1. As you breathe, most of the air is going in and out of one nostril. Every few hours, the workload shifts to the other nostril.

    2. Blood makes up about 8 percent of your total body weight.

    3. The human nose can detect about 1 trillion smells.

    4. You have two kidneys, but only one is necessary to live.

    5. Belly buttons grow special hairs to catch lint.

      A woman putting her hands in a heart shape around her belly button
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      1. The satisfying sound of cracking your knuckles comes from gas bubbles bursting in your joints.

      2. Skin is the body’s largest organ and can comprise 15 percent of a person’s total weight.

      3. Thumbs have their own pulse.

      4. Your tongue is made up of eight interwoven muscles, similar in structure to an elephant’s trunk or an octopus’s tentacle.

      5. On a genetic level, all human beings are more than 99 percent identical.

        Identical twin baby boys in striped shirts
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        1. The foot is one of the most ticklish parts of the body.

        2. Extraocular muscles in the eye are the body’s fastest muscles. They allow both of your eyes to flick in the same direction in a single 50-millisecond movement.

        3. A surgical procedure called a selective amygdalohippocampectomy removes half of the brain’s amygdala—and with it, the patient’s sense of fear.

        4. The pineal gland, which secretes the hormone melatonin, got its name from its shape, which resembles a pine nut.

        5. Hair grows fast—about 6 inches per year. The only thing in the body that grows faster is bone marrow.

          An African-American woman drying her hair with a towel and laughing
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          1. No one really knows what fingerprints are for, but they might help wick water away from our hands, prevent blisters, or improve touch.

          2. The heart beats more than 3 billion times in the average human lifespan.

          3. Blushing is caused by a rush of adrenaline.

8 Facts About Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein was a multi-talented children’s author, comic artist, poet, playwright, and songwriter, and above all else, a rule-breaker. From The Giving Tree to Where the Sidewalk Ends, his titles are beloved by children and adults alike. At the time they were written, though, they defied common notions about what a "children’s" story could and should be. This isn’t all that surprising, considering that the Chicago-born author, who passed away in 1999, led a pretty unconventional life. Here are eight things you might not know about him.

1. One of Shel Silverstein's first jobs was selling hot dogs in Chicago.

Shel Silverstein didn’t always want to be a writer, or even a cartoonist or songwriter. His first love was baseball. "When I was a kid—12, 14, around there—I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls," he once said in an interview. "But I couldn’t play ball, I couldn’t dance. Luckily, the girls didn’t want me; not much I could do about that. So I started to draw and to write.” The closest he came to his MLB dream was when he landed a stint at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, selling hot dogs to White Sox fans.

2. Silverstein never finished college.

Silverstein was expelled from one school (the University of Illinois) and dropped out of another (the School of the Art Institute of Chicago). Finally, he managed to get through three years of the English program at Chicago's Roosevelt University, but his studies came to an abrupt end when he was drafted in 1953.

3. Silverstein was a Korean War veteran.

In the 1950s, Silverstein was drafted into the U.S. armed service. While he was stationed in Korea and Japan, he also worked as a cartoonist for the military publication Stars and Stripes. It was his first big cartooning gig. "For a guy of my age and with my limited experience to suddenly have to turn out cartoons on a day-to-day deadline deadline, the job was enormous,'' Silverstein told Stars and Stripes in a 1969 interview.

4. Silverstein worked for Playboy magazine and was Part of Hugh Hefner's inner circle.

That’s right: the lovable children’s author was on Playboy’s payroll for many years. He started drawing comics for the men’s magazine in the 1950s and ended up becoming close friends with Hugh Hefner. In fact, he often spent weeks or even months at the Playboy Mansion, where he wrote some of his books. His cartoons for the magazine proved so popular that Playboy sent him around the world to find the humor in places like London, Paris, North Africa, and Moscow during the Cold War. Perhaps his most off-color assignment, though, was visiting a nudist camp in New Jersey. These drawings were compiled in the 2007 book Playboy's Silverstein Around the World, which includes a foreword from Hefner.

5. Silverstein wrote Johnny Cash's hit song "A Boy Named Sue."

Few people know that Silverstein was a songwriter, too. One of his biggest hits was the comical tale of a boy who learned how to defend himself after being relentlessly bullied for his feminine-sounding name, Sue. The song was popularized by Johnny Cash and ended up being his top-selling single, while Silverstein was awarded a Grammy for Best Country Song. You can watch Silverstein strumming the guitar and shouting the lyrics alongside Cash on The Johnny Cash Show in the video above. Silverstein also wrote a follow-up song from the dad’s point of view, The Father of a Boy Named Sue, but it didn't take off the way the original did.

6. Silverstein is in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Three years after his death, Silverstein was inducted posthumously into this exclusive society of songwriters. He wrote more than 800 songs throughout his career, some of which were quite raunchy. But his best-known songs were performed by country legends like Loretta Lynn and Waylon Jennings. “His compositions were instantly identifiable, filled with elevated wordplay and captivating, humor-filled narratives,” the Nashville Songwriters Foundation said of Silverstein's music.

7. Silverstein wrote the first children’s book to appear on The New York Times best sellerS list.

A Light in the Attic (1981) was the first children’s book to ever make it onto the prestigious New York Times Best Sellers list. It remained there for a whopping 182 weeks, breaking all of the previous records for hardcover books at that time.

8. Silverstein wasn't a fan of happy endings.

If you couldn’t already tell by The Giving Tree’s sad conclusion, Silverstein didn’t believe in giving his stories happy endings. He felt that doing so would alienate his young readers. "The child asks why I don't have this happiness thing you're telling me about, and comes to think when his joy stops that he has failed, that it won't come back,” the author said in a 1978 interview. This turned out to be a risky move, and The Giving Tree was rejected several times for being too sad or too unconventional. Fortunately, after four years of searching for a publisher, it found a home at HarperCollins (then Harper & Row) and has gone on to become one of the best-selling—and most beloved—children's books of all time.

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