Completely Useless Facts of the Week – Issue 29

April 12, 2015

uselessfacts header29The weekly collection of useless and fun facts.  In this week’s edition: A Buttload Measurement, Oxymorons, A Persistent Lightbulb, Wal-Mart Dating, and Lamborghini’s Revenge.
butt barrel
alx_chief/flickr

Who knew units of measure could be such a funny thing?  The word “butt” has many different meanings in the English language.  It can mean an overlapping joint, to strike or thrust, to place end to end, the end of a handle, the unused portion of something that is smoked, and of course the fleshy backside of our bodies.  But, the word “butt” also has a distinct meaning dealing with measurement.

The term “butt” was a medieval unit of measure for wine casks, and the measurement was standardized in 1707.  The largest unit, a tun (not to be mistaken for the weight measurement, ton) was about 252 wine gallons.  From there, other units were derived.  A butt was a half of a tun, a puncheaon was a third of a tun, a hogshead was a fourth of a tun, and two hogshead made a butt (each 63 gallons).  These were followed by a tierce, a barrel, and a rundlet, which all decreased in size.  So when you ask a friend to get you a “buttload” of something, it would measure about 126 gallons.  Be careful what you ask for if your friend is a expert in medieval measurements.  You could end up with more than you could handle.  Source

oxymoron mammoth
oxymoron entrance
oxymoron sign
Watling/Flickr

The word “oxymoron” is actually an oxymoron. It comes from the Greek “oxy” meaning sharp or keen, and “moron” meaning dull or stupid.   Its origin is from the 1650s.  The pictures are just a few examples in our oxymoronic world.  Be careful when you call someone an oxymoron because you may be giving them a compliment.

Livermore_Centennial_Light_Bulb
The next fact is a fascinating in its persistence.  The world’s longest lasting light bulb has been burning in a Livermore, California Fire Station since 1901.  That’s 114 years that the bulb has been in operation with over 1,000,000 hours of use.  It has been off at various times in its history.  Once in 1937 for a week when the firehouse was being renovated, and for nine and a half hours in 2013 when a back-up system failed in keeping it lit.

This particular bulb was invented by Adolphe Chaillet and made by the Shelby Electric Company.  It was hand blown, has a carbon filament, and burned at 60 watts in its beginning but now shines at 4 watts.  There is no answer to why the bulb has burned so long even though many have researched it.  One idea believed for its longevity is because the filament is eight times thicker than a modern bulb.  Another idea is since the filament doesn’t burn as hot as a modern and thinner tungsten filament, the integrity of the filament has stayed intact.  No one really knows for sure.  Source, Sourceshoppingcart with bowHere’s something from the “what if they tried it here,” file.  In 2005, Wal-Marts in Germany held successful singles nights called “Singles Shopping” where people had a bow on their carts if they were interested in meeting someone. Even though Wal-Mart closed its German stores in 2006, it had became quite the dating scene.  Workers would greet guests interested in the match making idea with wine and oysters.  They would take their picture and put it on a bulletin board with their vital statistics and interests.  A shopping cart with a bow would then indicate a person’s single status.  Wal-Mart even trademarked the name “Singles Shopping” so now one else would steal their idea.  There was even a spike in Friday night sales of 25% during the program.  Can you even imagine how that would go if it were attempted here?  We can only cringe at the thought.  Source

Lamborghini_AventadorEnzo Ferrari once responded to a man who was a successful tractor maker who wasn’t happy with his Ferrari with, “you may be able to drive a tractor but you will never be able to handle a Ferrari properly.” The man had complained about a weak clutch in his Ferrari, and was so ticked off at being dismissed by Ferrari that he decided to make an even better car, the perfect car in his mind. His name was Ferruccio Lamborghini, and he made his first production car in 1964, the 350 GTV.  Today that particular car can go for $300,000 at auction.  Source

Another edition of the Useless Facts of the Week is done. Check back again next week for another edition.  As always, remember to annoy those around you with your new found knowledge.

Past Issues of the Completely 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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