Non-stop learning

Last week I had occasion to be on hold with the Exploratorium for a long time. I didn't mind, though, because in lieu of hold music, what you get at the Exploratorium is a cavalcade of interesting facts. I don't want to horde the interesting facts all for myself because it's Christmastime and that would be selfish, so here are a couple for you:

  1. The first passengers ever to travel in a hot air balloon were a sheep, a duck, and a rooster. When the balloon landed, the animals seemed to be unharmed, reassuring the people that it would be safe to travel by balloon, but then it was discovered that the rooster had a broken wing.  "Egads!" said the people, "Hot air balloon travel breaks wings!  This is no good at all!"  Then a woman stepped forward and said that, in fact, she had seen the sheep kick the rooster before they even left the ground.

    Moral: It's safe to go up in a hot air balloon, but not with a sheep.
  2. Face powder in Elizabethan times contained lead, which, as lead is wont to do when you smear it on your face, killed a lot of people.
    Fortunately, an alternative came along: Arsenic Complexion Wafers!

    Really, is there any more fashionable pallor than the one supplied by death?