Useless information

It is sometimes interesting to understand why things are the way they are. It can also reveal much about the workings of the human mind and the course of history…
The US standard railroad gauge (width between the two rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?
Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.
Why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.
Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons which used that wheel spacing.
Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots first formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war horses. Thus, we have the answer to the original question.
Now the twist to the story..............
There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse's Ass!
The Association for Automotive Professionals
Will L. Woods, CAE
Automotive Trade Organizations of CA
3002 Dow Avenue, Suite 308
Tustin, CA 92780-7234

In times gone by, when pub-goers drank from tankards, some tankards were made of a poor standard pewter that contained too much lead. If the acidity of the beverage in the tankard was high, the lead would be released into the drink. The lengthy, unconscious state that followed was often mistaken for death and many a drunk was buried alive. (This was discovered because the coffins were recycled, after a fortnight they dug up the poor sods, nicked the coffin and used it again. Scratch marks were found on the inside of the lids - urghh!) Anyway, to prevent this happening the corpses were buried with string attached the wrist. This went to the surface and was attached to a bell. Graveyard watchman would sit there waiting for "dead ringers" to "be saved by the bell".

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, "goodnight, sleep tight" came from.

The sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the alphabet. Developed by Western Union to test telex/twx communications.

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

When opossums are playing 'possum, they are not "playing." They actually pass out from sheer terror.

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.

The term "the whole 9 yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."

The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.

When Heinz ketchup leaves the bottle, it travels at a rate of 25 miles per year.

The name Jeep came from the abbreviation used in the army for the "General Purpose" vehicle, GP

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

On average, 100 people choke to death on ball-point pens every year.

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

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

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

In 10 minutes, a hurricane releases more energy than all the world's nuclear weapons combined.

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 "honey month" or what we know today as the honeymoon."

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It's where we get the phrase "mind your P's and Q's."

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. "Wet your whistle," is the phrase inspired by this practice.

In ancient England a person could not have sex unless you had consent of the King (unless you were in the Royal Family). When anyone wanted to have a baby, they got consent of the King & the King gave them a placard that they hung on their door while they were having sex. The placard had F.U.C.K. (Fornication Under Consent of the King) on it. Now you know where that came from.

Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you. The spray blocks the mosquito's sensors so they don't know you're there.

The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as substitute for blood plasma.

No piece of paper can be folded more than 7 times.

Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.

You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television.

Oak trees do not produce acorns until they are fifty years of age or older.

The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's gum.

The king of hearts is the only king without a mustache.

A Boeing 747s wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first flight.

Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

Apples, not caffeine, are more efficient at waking you up in the morning.

The plastic things on the end of shoelaces are called aglets.

Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.

Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

Marilyn Monroe had six toes.

Pearls melt in vinegar.

It is possible to lead a cow upstairs...but not downstairs.

A duck's quack doesn't echo and no one knows why.

The reason firehouses have circular stairways is from the days when the engines were pulled by horses.

The horses were stabled on the ground floor and figured out how to walk up straight staircases.

More Useful Information

The Distance To The Moon -- approximately 240,000 Statue Miles.
(kindly supplied by Miss Mary)
The Moon is at an average distance of about 239,000 miles (385,000 km) from the earth. It's orbit is elliptical and the distance varies from approximately 221,000 miles (356,000 km) at perigee to 253,000 miles (407,000 km) at apogee. As with the sun, this change in distance causes a variation in apparent diameter of the moon, as viewed from the earth, between 29.4 and 33.4 minutes of arc. The diameter of the moon is roughly 2,160 miles (3,480 km). Its period of revolution about the earth and its axial rotation are the same, 27 1/2 days, thus it always presents essentially the same face to the earth. The moon is slowly getting farther from the earth. This is a result of the earth losing energy because of the tides. The moon gains energy. And the earth-moon system does not gain or lose any energy.