Saturday, June 24, 2017
The English language (or at least the American branch of the language) is often confusing even to those who were born here. I can't imagine learning it as a second language. Where other languages seem to have set rules, English has set rules that are filled with exceptions and sometimes even those exceptions have exceptions.
A good example is the 'i before e' spelling rule—I before E except after C' (exception to rule) 'or when sounded as A, as in weigh' (exception to the exception).
We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes, but the plural of ox became oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
One may be that and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose. And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.
Some reasons to be thankful if you grew up speaking English rather than learning it as a second (or even third) language:
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) At the army base a bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into the sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22) I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.
Let's face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig. And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it, an odd or an end?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell? How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
For every major war that fills our history books and newspapers—the Revolutionary War of the American colonists vs. England, American Civil War with the North vs. the South, World War I, World War II, what were termed police actions such as Korea and Viet Nam (war by any other name), and the Persian Gulf War (1990-1991, a United Nations action) leading up to the current armed conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan—there are dozens of small wars that don't receive any attention in history class. Some of them were ludicrous and others were very serious.
Here's a list of 10 wars (in no particular order) that you probably never heard about.
1) The Pig War
This little known conflict dates back to 1859 and had the potential to change the course of American history. And it all started over a pig. Both America and Britain claimed possession of and resided on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington state. The two countries maintained an uneasy truce…until an American farmer shot a British pig he discovered tearing up his potato patch. This action resulted in the British trying to arrest the farmer who called in the American troops in support of his position. The two countries squared off on the tiny island. The British Navy sent 3 warships and over 2,000 men. No shots were fired (beyond the original shot that killed the pig). San Juan Island was eventually ceded to the Americans as part of the San Juan Islands group.
2) The Stray Dog War
And speaking of animals being the source of an international conflict, that's also the case with the long-running rivalry between Bulgaria and Greece. In 1925 a Greek soldier chased his runaway dog across the border and was shot dead by a Bulgarian border guard. That action set off an immediate retaliation with the Greek army invading the border region of Petrich and routing the Bulgarian army. The League of Nations ordered Greece to withdraw and pay Bulgaria about $90,000 in damages.
3) The War Of Jenkins' Ear
There are lots of reasons why wars start, but there's only one known to have started because of a severed ear. British sea captain Robert Jenkins' boat was boarded by the Spanish in the Caribbean. The Spanish accused him of piracy and cut off his left ear. In 1738, Jenkins brought the ear to Parliament and it was enough for Great Britain to declare war on Spain. After 7 years of conflict, both countries backed off with no major territory changes on either side.
4) The Moldovan-Transdniestrian War
The breakup of the Soviet Union left several countries looking for something to do and in some cases that something ended up being war. Moldova had a partisan faction wanting to stay allied with Romania and another wanting to align with Russia. Nearly a thousand people were killed before hostilities ceased. The unusual part of the war was the relationship between the soldiers of the opposing sides. After battling each other during the day, they would socialize in the bars in the disputed zone at night, often apologizing to each other for the events of the day.
5) The Honey War
In the early days of the United States when the federal government wasn't as strong as it is now, the individual states often became involved in ridiculous squabbles with each other that sometimes escalated into violence. In 1839, the governor of Missouri decided to redraw his state's border with Iowa because…well, apparently because he felt like it that morning. And then he sent in his tax collectors to pick up some extra cash from its new citizens. Needless to say, this didn't go over very well. The only thing the tax collectors were able to collect consisted of 3 beehives full of honey. The Missouri militia got into an armed conflict with Iowa citizens who captured a sheriff. Congress finally drew a permanent border line and told both states to chill out.
6) Anglo-Zanzibar War
This conflict lasted an awesome 38 minutes making it the world record holder for the shortest war in history. Khalid vin Bargash, the new Sultan of Zanzibar, came into power in 1896. He didn't like having his protectorate as a British puppet so he declared war and barricaded himself in the palace. Less than an hour later, the British had shelled him, removed him from power and installed a new Sultan in his place.
7) The Football War
This four day war between Honduras and El Salvador was about more than a soccer game. Hundreds of thousands Salvadorans had been moving to Honduras to find work. By the late 1970s, tensions between the two countries had reached the breaking point. The spark that set off the war was the FIFA World Cup qualifying matches between the two countries. After each had won one game, the Salvadoran Air Force (passenger planes with bombs strapped to them) attacked Honduran targets. Neither nation could support an extended war, so a cease-fire was negotiated. They remained bitter enemies for more than a decade.
8) The Watermelon War
Yet another war that started over a trivial matter and quickly escalated out of control. The United States occupation of Panama to build the canal displaced much of the nation's white-collar workforce, leaving a great many natives unemployed. A boat carrying 1,000 American workers landed in Panama City making the matter even worse. One of those passengers, an American named Jack Oliver, took a piece of watermelon from a Panamanian vendor and refused to pay for it. The vendor pulled a knife. Oliver pulled a gun. And both sides were battling it out with each sustaining casualties. Eventually a railroad car of riflemen arrived on the scene and brokered a peace. The brief war, however, laid the groundwork for the later American occupation of Panama.
9) The Emu War
Unlike earlier mentioned wars started because of animals, this one was a war against animals. In 1932 Australia found itself overrun by emus, a large flightless bird that looks like an ostrich. More than 20,000 emus were destroying crops so the government declared all out war on the birds. They sent soldiers armed with machine guns and orders to shoot emus on sight. The birds proved to be tougher than estimated and after a week the commanding officer gave up. They had killed barely 10 percent of their target.
10) The Chaco WarThis was a South American conflict that started over a postage stamp. The Chaco region is on the border between Bolivia and Paraguay with both countries believing the region was rich in oil (which it wasn't). Bolivia issued a postage stamp in 1932 featuring a map of their country including the Chaco region. Not to be outdone, Paraguay struck back by issuing their own stamp with their map including the Chaco region. Hostilities erupted in the region with both sides buying arms from the U.S. and from Europe. When it was over, Paraguay was the winner and new owner of a completely useless piece of land.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
From the day man first figured out how to travel on the water, it's been an accepted fact that some ships would leave port and never return. On occasion these lost ships are seen again and again, often minus their crew, seemingly traveling the seas randomly. These wandering vessels are often referred to as ghost ships.
One of the most famous of the ghost ships, the Mary Celeste (pictured above) was a brigantine with a history of minor accidents, crew illnesses, and embarrassing mishaps. Suspicious sailors considered it an unlucky ship. Those sailors were proven right when the ship was found on December 4, 1872, drifting unmanned in the middle of the Atlantic approximately 600 miles from the nearest port.
A popular enhancement to the story, but not true, says the boarding party found still warm and untouched meals when they entered the galley. In reality, they found nothing amiss except some slight damage to the sails and pumps and the loss or destruction of much of the ship's navigational equipment and documentation. And the ship's only lifeboat was gone. The captain's intact log book gave no hint of what happened. When the vessel was finally steered into Gibraltar, its entire cargo was intact except for 9 mysteriously empty barrels that had contained alcohol.
Modern explanations have fixed on those 9 barrels. It's theorized that the porous wood allowed the alcohol to evaporate, filling the hold with noxious and explosive vapors. Fearing an explosion and fire, everyone evacuated the ship in panic.
There isn't any mystery concerning the initial loss of the Baychimo, but its continual reappearance is a mystery of its own. In 1931, the Baychimo became irretrievably mired in pack ice off the coast of Alaska where the crew was able to walk to safety after determining the ship was a write off. But that didn't stop it from being seen again and again over the next 38 years. Every attempt by salvage crews to board her were thwarted by freak storms and encroaching ice floes. The last confirmed sighting was from the air in 1969 showing the wandering ship again mired in heavy pack ice. To this day the location of the Baychimo is unknown.
The Antarctic Circle is known as a dangerous place to sail, spawning many tales of death and tragedy. One of the most disturbing is the story of the schooner Jenny. On September 22, 1860, the crew of the whaler Hope sighted a battered ship sailing out from a gap between 2 icebergs with 7 men appearing to be standing at attention on the main deck. As the Hope drew closer, its crew saw that the men were actually frozen solid. When they boarded the schooner, the Hope's captain found the Jenny's captain apparently in the middle of writing a log entry. He, too, was frozen solid. The last entry in the log book was dated May 4, 1823—almost 40 years earlier.
BOUVET ISLAND ROWBOAT
Bouvet Island is one of the most isolated places on the face of the planet. The closest land of any kind is the uninhabited coast of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica, 1100 miles away. It's not on any shipping routes, has no interesting or precious resources, and its sole purpose today is the location of a weather station on one of the few stretches of ground where boats can land. In 1964 the British and South African government went to Bouvet Island to establish a weather station. They found a 20 foot boat of a lifeboat or whaler type, a single set of oars, a 40 gallon drum, and a "copper flotation or buoyancy tank" that had been cut open for some unknown reason. No human remains or traces of habitation were found. The life threatening weather and aggressive wildlife allowed them only 45 minutes to determine if the area was suitable for the weather station. The worsening weather forced the crew to return to Cape Town. Two years later, a follow up expedition found no trace of the rowboat or the damaged equipment.
On February 13, 1748, Simon Reed took his new bride, Annette, aboard his ship, Lady Lovibond. They were going on a cruise to Portugal. At the time, it was considered bad luck to bring a woman on a ship. Unfortunately for all on board, the first mate was in love with the captain's wife. In a fit of jealous rage, he took control of the wheel and steered the Lovibond towards the notorious Goodwin Sands resulting in the death of everyone onboard. Fifty years later to the day, in 1798, 2 separate ships saw a phantom ship sailing the Goodwin Sands. Then on February 13, 1848, another 50 years later, local fisherman saw a vessel wreck in the area and lifeboats were sent to investigate, but no sign could be found of a ship on the sands. In 1948, another 50 year increment, the Lovibond was seen again and was described as having an eerie green glow.
And finally, probably the most famous ghost ship of all…
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
What most people probably don't know (and I'm in that group) is that The Flying Dutchman refers to the captain of the vessel and not to the ship itself. Several ghost ships have been referred to as The Flying Dutchman, but there was one original candidate.
As the story goes: Captain Hendrick Van Der Decken was sailing around the Cape of Good Hope headed for Amsterdam. Even though a terrible storm raged around them, the captain refused to turn back despite the pleadings of the frightened crew. As monstrous waves attacked the ship, the captain passed the time by singing obscene songs, drinking beer, and smoking his pipe. Finally, out of desperation, some of the crew mutinied. The captain, in a drunken stupor, shot the leader and threw his body overboard. At that time, the clouds overhead parted and a booming voice came down from the heavens. "You're a very stubborn man."
The captain replied, "I never asked for a peaceful voyage. I never asked for anything, so clear off before I shoot you, too." Van Der Decken aimed his pistol toward the sky but before he could fire, the pistol exploded in his hand.
"You are condemned to sail the oceans for eternity, with a ghostly crew of dead men, bringing death to all who sight your spectral ship and to never make port or know a moment's peace. Furthermore, gall shall be your drink, and red hot iron your meat."
Saturday, June 3, 2017
A couple of years ago, I was watching Castle Secrets And Legends on the Travel Channel. One of the segments was about Cromer Hall in England (pictured above), located just outside Cromer, about 140 miles or so northeast of London. The Cabell family have been owner and residents of Cromer Hall for the last 150 years.
A local legend told to a visiting Arthur Conan Doyle, along with the physical description of the actual Cromer Hall built in 1829, are said to have been Doyle's inspiration for The Hound Of The Baskervilles published in 1902. Being a Sherlock Holmes fan, I was pleased when they aired that episode again. I augmented the information the show provided with a little research of my own—starting by locating Cromer on a map.
According to a legend told to Doyle, on August 5, 1577, a large black Hound of Hell materialized in a local church and brutally mauled two people to death. The hound glared at the other people in the church with red blazing eyes, then disappeared leaving only a scorched claw mark on the stone wall to confirm its presence—a mark that remains to this day. The beast was called Black Shuk and blamed for all unexplained gruesome happenings that took place after that.
Another legend tells of Richard Cabell, a 17th century country squire. After seriously mistreating a village girl, he was chased by wild hounds until he died of a heart attack. Considered to have been an evil man and feared by the local villagers, they entombed his body in a small building by the church and placed a heavy stone slab on top of his grave so he couldn't escape.
The Cabell family has their own version of this legend. Richard Cabell believed his wife had been unfaithful. He chased her out into the night and viciously stabbed her to death. Her loyal dog retaliated by tearing him to pieces.
Doyle took the basics of the the three legends along with a detailed description of Cromer Hall, and transported it all to Dartmoor. And the name he gave to the family cursed with the presence of a Hound From Hell due to an ancestor's misdeeds? The coachman who drove Arthur Conan Doyle to Cromer Hall that fateful day for his visit was a man named…Henry Baskerville.
The huge popularity of the story continues today. Devotees of The Hound Of The Baskervilles often dress in period clothes, including the infamous deerstalker cap, and search Dartmoor for the origins of the story.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The last Monday in May, this year falling on May 29, is Memorial Day in the United States—a holiday honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War but didn't become an official federal holiday until 1971.
In addition to being a day observed by many Americans visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and participating in patriotic parades, it's also considered the unofficial start of the summer season and vacation time.
The Civil War claimed more lives than any conflict in U.S. history. This required the establishment of the country's first national cemeteries. In the late 1860s, Americans in various small towns and large cities held springtime tributes to fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day, the date chosen because it was not the anniversary of any particular battle.
On the first Decoration Day, General Logan made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery where 5,000 participants decorated the graves of 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
Decoration Day originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But by the time the U.S. became involved in World War I, the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.
The name Decoration Day gradually changed over to Memorial Day during the ensuing years, but continued to be observed on May 30. In 1968, one hundred years after General Logan made his Decoration Day proclamation, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. This law also declared Memorial Day to be a federal holiday. The change went into effect in 1971.
In addition to nationwide parades and the decorating of graves and monuments, Memorial Day has come to hold a second distinction. It is also a time of many family gatherings which include backyard BBQs and picnics. With an official date of the last Monday in May, the holiday is considered the unofficial start of summer and the beginning of the vacation travel season in the Northern Hemisphere with the Labor Day holiday on the first Monday of September signaling the unofficial end of the summer season.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
I read an article about scientists who work on location rather than in a lab…the ones whose labs are out there, in dangerous places and situations where most of us would never go.
So, in no particular order, here are nine of these dangerous scientific work locations.
1) Inside Volcanoes
When you think of geologists your first thought is usually the study of rocks and various landforms, something safe and basically stable. But for the branch of this particular science known as volcanology, things are definitely less stable and certainly a little hotter. Having been to Mt. St. Helens, Washington, after the explosive eruption and viewing the devastation first hand, I'm very familiar with the story of David Johnston, the thirty year old volcanologist who was on duty at the time of the eruption and was one of the fifty-seven people who died in the eruption. Volcanologists study the intense heat and chaos inside active volcanoes, and recently a team of three researchers descended inside the Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island off the coast of Australia (pictured above) to study lava flows inside. Wearing a heat-resistant suit, one of them descended 1200 feet into the volcano’s crater to capture video footage of the lava’s movement. Normally, scientists use robotic cameras mounted to small helicopters to do this extremely dangerous work.
2) Tornado Country
The movie Twister gave us a good look at what storm chasers do, and those who live in the part of the U.S. referred to as Tornado Alley see the results of their work on the news when the storm conditions are present that produce tornadoes. Collecting data on storms is a tough process. Getting close to a tornado is risky on a good day, and self-proclaimed storm chasers run that risk all the time. Even with such advanced technology as Doppler radar giving us the overall picture of a severe storm, some scientists claim there is some data that can only be gathered at ground level. One of the most noted tornado researchers, Tim Samaras, routinely drove in front of tornadoes to place cameras and pressure sensors to record the velocities of objects swept up by the storm. Unfortunately, in 2013 Samaras, his son and another storm chaser died in an Oklahoma tornado.
3) Biosafety Level 4 Labs
Laboratories that deal with germs and diseases that can be dangerous or fatal to humans are given a biosafety rating from one to four. Facilities that deal with Level 4 are where the really bad stuff happens. One of the most notable is the integrated research facility located at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The laboratory is housed in a nondescript three-story office building—an airtight, pressurized environment restricted to only thirty researchers. The germs they work with include epidemic diseases like Ebola. The facility has airlocks that separate it from the outside world and anything that leads outside the building, such as light fixtures or electrical outlets, is sealed in epoxy to prevent even a single germ from escaping. Scientists are given a seven-minute showering with virus-killing chemicals before they leave.
4) Underwater Caves
The ocean is a massive mystery to humanity, covering the majority of the Earth’s surface. Even though it's part of our planet, we seem to know more about outer space than we do the depths of our oceans. One of the most interesting areas under the ocean's surface are what are known as blue holes, underwater caves that can reach as deep as 600 feet below sea level. These caves have difficult topography. They vary in size from massive, sprawling caverns to holes barely big enough to admit a human. Diving there can be very dangerous with unpredictable currents. Despite the dangers, scientific rewards are huge with both biological and archaeological finds waiting to be discovered.
Forest ecosystems are made up of distinct layers, each with its own climate and variety of plants and animals. It’s a simple task to study the layers nearest the ground, but botanists have lots of questions about what’s happening up above. And that’s where canopy research comes in. Scientists at Humboldt State University climb to the top of trees that can exceed 350 feet in height, anchoring their bodies to the trunk. From that risky perch they can observe the canopy ecosystem…as long as they don't lose their balance. At the top of the trees, researchers have discovered a whole ecosystem of moss, lichens, and even whole new trees and bushes growing from dead stumps.
6) Amundsen-Scott Station
Originally built by the United States government in 1956, the Amundsen-Scott Station sits squarely on the south pole. With temperatures ranging from minus 13.6 degrees Celsius (minus 56.48 Fahrenheit) on a nice day to minus 82.8 degrees Celsius (minus 181.04 Fahrenheit) when winter is in high gear, it’s one of the most inhospitable regions on the planet. Even though blizzards and intense winds are common, astronomers spend months at the station because the six months of total darkness during winter makes Amundsen-Scott a perfect place to observe the night sky. Other researchers study the movements of the Antarctic ice sheet—the station itself moves about thirty-three feet a year as the ice drifts.
7) Aquarius Lab
Operated by the National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration, this deep-sea science station comes with a little twist. The human body is only capable of staying underwater for a short period at a time because decompression sickness (commonly referred to as the bends) can cause incredible damage when gas bubbles form and disrupt tissue. Some scientists have long-term research projects that need to happen in deep water, so they do it at the Aquarius Lab. This facility rests on the sea floor outside of Key Largo, Florida at a depth of 50 feet. Researchers spend up to ten days underwater at a time, studying the nearby coral reefs.
8) Inside Hurricanes
Here’s another meteorological condition where some scientists like to get a little too close. The National Oceanic and Aeronautic Administration employs a number of flight meteorologists who take airplanes into the eyes of hurricanes to gather data on the storm’s strength and direction. They use two planes—one is a Gulfstream G-4 that has the easy job of circling the storm’s funnel, the second is a smaller propeller plane that actually penetrates the fast-moving wind to fly right to the eye of the storm. In addition to using Doppler radar on the plane’s tail, they also release a device called a dropsonde that transmits pressure and humidity data.
9) Outer Space
And finally…there is literally no environment as hostile to the human body as the vacuum of space. Long-term weightlessness has negative effects on muscle tone, bone density and the immune system. Exposure to radiation in low-earth orbit comes at levels ten times higher than the normal dose on the Earth’s surface. And there’s also the fact that outer space doesn’t have any of that oxygen stuff our bodies need to function. Experimentation in outer space has led to a number of fascinating discoveries in fields as diverse as astronomy and cancer medicine.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
And by things that kill, I'm not referring to crime or war. Some are bizarre and others more common place. A recent survey provided a list of cause-of-death statistics that I found interesting and thought I would share with you. I actually found two lists, one a list of 10 Incredibly Bizarre Death Statistics and the other a list of 20 (all the 10 items from the first list are on the list of 20 plus 10 more).
Sharks reportedly kill 5 people annually. But that's a small number compared to other bizarre causes of death.
Roller Coasters are responsible for 6 accidental deaths annually. Overall, the risk factor for injury while riding a roller coaster is very low. In the U.S., people take about 900 million rides a year.
Vending Machines kill 13 people a year. What? A crazed vending machine out on a killing spree? Nope, the deaths are a result of the vending machine toppling over and crushing the unfortunate person who happened to be in the way.
High School Football is responsible for 20 tragic deaths annually.
Ants kill 30 people annually. There are over 280 different species of ants that can kill with the fire ant and siafu ant, both found in Africa, among the most deadly. Ants live in colonies that can reach 20 million ants in a single colony. Once an attack begins, ants can easily overpower their prey.
Dogs kill 30 people annually in the U.S. There are approximately 4.7 million dog bite victims in the U.S. alone with 1000 of those treated in emergency rooms. Most of those victims are children who were bitten in the face.
Jelly Fish are responsible for 40 deaths annually. Most jelly fish are not deadly, but some can cause anaphylaxis which can be fatal.
Tornadoes kill an average of 60 people annually, with some years having more tornado outbreaks than other years.
Hot Dogs are responsible for 70 deaths annually, primarily from choking.
Icicles kill 100 people a year in Russia. This happens when sharp icicles fall from snowy rooftops and land on unsuspecting victims on the sidewalks below.
Deer are responsible for 130 annual deaths.
Bathtubs account for 340 annual deaths, primarily from people slipping and falling. They die either from a fatal blow to the head or knocking themselves out and drowning.
Falling Out of Bed results in a surprising 450 deaths a year. According to the Center for Disease Control, falling out of bed produces 1.8 million emergency room visits and over 400,000 hospital admissions each year. The very young and very old are most at risk with people over 65 faring the worst.
Shopping On Black Friday gives us 550 annual deaths. A U.S. phenomenon, that mad scramble for bargains the day after Thanksgiving which is the busiest shopping day on the year. The name Black Friday referring to a financially good economic situation, the day that retail businesses operate 100% in the black for the rest of the year (all income being profit, rather than the loss after deducting expenses related to being in the red).
Autoerotic Asphyxiation kills 600 people annually. This is the act of strangling or suffocating (most often by hanging) yourself to heighten sexual arousal. Depriving the brain of oxygen gives a person a dizzy, high feeling, however it's all too easy to make a mistake and accidently kill yourself while practicing this dangerous sex act.
Volcanoes kill 845 people annually.
Airplanes are responsible for an average 1,200 annual deaths.
Hippos come in on the survey with 2,900 deaths annually. Many experts believe that the Hippopotamus is the most dangerous animal in all of Africa. They weigh up to 8,000 pounds and can gallop at 18 miles per hour. They have been known to upset boats for no reason and bite passengers with their huge, sharp teeth. They are aggressive, unpredictable and have no fear of humans.
Texting while driving is responsible for 6,000 deaths each year. A survey by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that a driver's risk of collision is 23 times greater when they are texting while driving.