Completely Random Facts of the Week – Issue 57

March 24, 2016

randomfacts header57The weekly collection of random and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: Stolen Sand, Facebook Pirate, the Missing Fire Hydrant Patent, The Origin of the Word Mortgage, and the Most Expensive Overdue Book.

beachsandSometimes the oddest things are taken that you would never expect. One such example happened in 2008. Thieves in the country of Jamaica managed to steal an estimated 500 truckloads of sand from a planned tourist beach and were never caught.

The theft happened on the Coral Spring Beach in Trelawny, a $108 million resort development. It’s believed that the sand was sold to other resorts on other parts of the island. Some of the sand was reported to be on the northern coast, but police still didn’t know who the perpetrators were or where the sand went. It was believed that the heist had to have been precisely coordinated with various middle men, and the accusations of corruption within the government were raised.

This isn’t the first incidence of sand being stolen in massive quantities. In 2007, thieves stole hundreds of tons of sand, along with other beach equipment, from an artificial beach in a riverside resort in Hungary.  Source 

pirateknowledgestewWhen you want to shake up the look of your Facebook page, what should you do? There aren’t many options, but one thing you can do is change your language to “Pirate”.  Yes, you can have your page look like it has been taken over by a bunch of drunken pirates. To do it is rather simple. Scroll down the left side of your page and under the friends box you’ll see the language settings. Click on the plus sign and find English (Pirate). Or you can do the longer route and go to Settings, then Language, and then click edit in the box that says, “What language do you want to use Facebook in?”. From there it’s as easy as clicking on English (Pirate). Hit save and you can let your love of pirates be known.

Your timeline will become Cap’n’s Log, the about section is Hearsay, friends will be known as Me Hearties and Mateys, pictures will become Portraits, and the more button will be Keep Readin’ On. But be warned, me harties, all of the tabs and menus will be in pirate speak. Your city will even be listed as where you’re marooned. Go ahead, shake it up a little if you’re bored.

But that isn’t the only strange one you can do. Another language setting is English (Upside Down), and you guessed it, every piece of text, and I mean every piece, is upside down. Why someone would want this setting is beyond me other than if they like to browse Facebook while standing on their head.

fire hydrantThe invention of the fire hydrant is largely credited to Frederick Graff Sr. in 1801 while he was at the Philadelphia Water Works. It had a valve on top with a combination hose and faucet outlet. It’s believed that he was the first to patent the device. Unfortunately, Graff is only credited with the invention because in 1836 there was a huge fire in the patent office that caused it to completely burn. The building, along with the patents during that time, (including the one for the fire hydrant), went up in smoke.  Source

homeEver wonder why a home loan is called a mortgage? The roots of the word are actually very old. The word “Mortgage” comes from the Old French term of “mort gage”, which meant “dead pledge”. A mortgage is of course a legal agreement when a person borrows money to purchase a property and then pays it back over a set period of years. The term has been around a long time, going back to 1189 and the Tractatus of Glanvil, the earliest treatise on English law. But it didn’t have the same meaning as it does today. The creditor held the property and the benefits from the property were taken without the debt being reduced. There was also another, more favorable agreement, called the “vif gage” or living pledge. This allowed the profit from the property to be used to pay off the debt. A much better situation for the one who borrowed the money.

In the 15th century, the modern form of the mortgage came into use. Here the mortgage became a pledge and legal agreement where the property, and the benefits from the property, remained in the hands of the borrower, or debtor. The “dead pledge” didn’t have to do with the debtor having the debt until death however. Instead, if the loan wasn’t repaid, the borrower would lose the property and the debt would become dead, or voided. The borrower would be able to keep whatever profits they made from the property during the life of the loan, but the property used as security against the loan would return to the creditor to fulfill the initial agreement, or pledge. If it wasn’t repaid, or paid in full, it became “dead”. That form of legal agreement is still in use today.  Source, Source

booksThe largest fine ever paid for an overdue library book is $345.14, for the book Days and Deeds which was checked out in 1955 from the Kewanee Public Library in Illinois. The poetry book was found by Emily Canellos-Simms at her mother’s house. The book had been checked out in April 1955 and was due back in the same month. The fine was two cents per day after it became overdue, and it was paid 47 years later.

Probably the most egregious overdue book belonged to the first president of the United States, George Washington. He borrowed two books on October 5, 1789 from the New York Society Library. One was the Law of Nations, and the other was Commons Debates, a collection of transcripts from the House of Commons in Great Britain. They were due the next month but were never returned by the president. The ledger that held that Washington had borrowed the books went missing sometime after 1792 but was then discovered in 1934. There was no record Washington ever returned the books. The fine for the overdue books when adjusted for inflation was $300,000. On May 20, 2010, the staff at Mount Vernon tried to right Washington’s wrong by returning an identical copy of the Law of Nations to the library they had bought online for around $12,000. The library decided to clear Washington and his representatives from the fines. Washington did have a lot going on at the time if you remember.  Source, Source, Source

Thanks for reading. See you here next time and remember to annoy those around you with your new knowledge.

Need more random facts? Check out more from the Random Facts of the Week.

About the author 

Daniel Ganninger - The writer, editor, and chief lackey of Knowledge Stew, the author of the Knowledge Stew line of great trivia books, and editor of Fact World and the Knowledge Stew sister site on Medium. I hope you find things here to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

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