Category Archives: Misc.

What’s in Windshield Washer Fluid That Keeps It From Freezing?


Munawar asks: What do they put in windshield wiper fluid to keep it from freezing? Although there are other additives that are also sometimes used for the de-icing component in windshield washer fluid, the most commonly used ingredient is methanol, which combines with water, a dash of colored ink, and occasionally some form of detergent to make up windshield washer […]

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How the Missing-Children Milk Carton Program Started


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader If you were around in the 1980s, you undoubtedly remember them: black-and-white photos of missing children printed on the sides of cardboard milk cartons. Here’s the story of how it all started. ABDUCTED On Sunday morning, September 5, 1982, 12-year-old Johnny Gosch set out from his West Des Moines, Iowa, […]

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Got Milk and Michael Bay


In 1993, concerned about the steady decline of milk consumption over recent years, the newly created nonprofit California Milk Processor Board approached the advertising agency of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, seeking fresh ideas to get America excited about drinking their product. The agency found the request quite a challenge, since, in the words of Jeff Goodby: “We have all tried […]

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Why School Buses Are Yellow and Why They Don’t Typically Have Seatbelts


Today I found out why school buses are yellow. School buses are the primary mode of student transportation in North America. An estimated twenty-six million students in the United States alone are transported to school every school day via bus—over half the student population in the country. While school buses in countries outside of North America usually look like any […]

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Who Gets the Royalties for Hitler’s Book?


Lance H. asks: Who currently receives the royalties for Mein Kampf? Mein Kampf, the autobiographical, anti-Semitic hate-manifesto written by Adolf Hitler in the 1920s is one of the most controversial and infamous books of all time. As you might imagine, this has resulted in millions of copies of the book being sold since Hitler did the world a major favour and heroically […]

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On Naming Planes


Sara M asks: Why are Boeing planes so randomly numbered for their names? Although it may seem as if Boeing planes are randomly numbered, there actually is a method to their madness. Founded in July 1916 as the Pacific Aero Products Co, but changing into Boeing Airplane Company in 1917, Boeing was re-tooling and adapting to the end of World […]

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The Pass That Allows People to Fly Free Forever and the Airline’s Attempt to Kill It


Back in 1981, in an effort to raise some quick funds, American Airlines introduced a $250,000 pass (about $641,000 today) that would allow customers to fly on its airlines for free for the rest of their lives. In 1990, they bumped the price to $600,000 (about $1.07 million today), and then in 1993 to $1.01 million (about 1.7 million today). Despite […]

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The Murder Tree


Due to the fact that they can’t move and as such can’t sneak up on you, many people never really think of trees as being dangerous. As it turns out though, beyond the occasional tree that kills a person by falling on them, there’s also a tree out there so deadly it has been dubbed “The Suicide Tree”. But as you’ll […]

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Why Phone Keypads and Calculator/Keyboard Keypads are Arranged Differently

Prototype Push Button Phone (1948)

John T. asks Why do keyboard keypads number 7,8,9 on down and phone keypads number 1,2,3 on down? It’s not clear why numbering pads designed for calculation have 7-8-9 at the top, although the practice of placing the larger numbers above the smaller can be seen as far back as the late 19th century on early mechanical cash registers, often […]

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The Story of Honest Abe’s Family Tree


The following is an article from Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader The Abraham Lincoln bloodline shed its last drop in 1985. Or did it? ROOTS A year after Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith’s death in 1985, a 17-year-old boy appeared in court to accept a million-dollar settlement from the Lincoln estate. Beckwith was the last of the 16th president’s three great-grandchildren to […]

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Charles Dickens and a Stalker


For all Charles Dickens knew, his second American tour starting in 1867 might be a trip into hostile territory. His first tour in the country during 1842 left him disillusioned, and his subsequent books American Notes and Martin Chuzzlewit offered stinging criticism of the America he experienced. But he was desperate.  Between his banished wife’s monthly stipend and supporting his […]

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From Wallpaper Cleaner to Kid’s Toy- The Origin of Play-Doh


The story of Play-Doh began when Kutol, a Cincinnati based soap company, was about to go under in the late 1920s. Cleo McVicker, just 21 years old, was tasked with selling off the company’s remaining assets, which at the time comprised mainly of powdered hand soap. Once that was done, the company would be too. Cleo, however, managed to turn […]

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Robert Frost’s Commonly Misinterpreted “The Road Not Taken” and the Role it Played in the Death of His Best Friend


Robert Frost is one of the most critically acclaimed American poets of the 20th century, which is a roundabout way of saying you almost certainly studied one of his poems in school. Most likely, it was a short piece called The Road Not Taken- a poem famous for being one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted poems ever written, and […]

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