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(Almost) 50 Amazing Facts

1. If you are right handed, you will tend to chew your food on your right side. If you are left handed, you will tend to chew your food on your left side.
2. If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. For when a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.
3. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.
4. Your tongue is germ free only if it is pink. If it is white there is a thin film of bacteria on it.
6. The Titanic was the first ship to use the SOS signal.
7. The pupil of the eye expands as much as 45 percent when a person looks at something pleasing.
8. The average person who stops smoking requires one hour less sleep a night.
9. Laughing lowers levels of stress hormones and strengthens the immune system. Six-year-olds laugh an average of 300 times a day. Adults only laugh 15 to 100 times a day.
10. The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.
11. Dalmatians are born without spots.
12. Bats always turn left when exiting a cave.
15. The owl is the only bird to drop its upper eyelid to wink. All other birds raise their lower eyelids.
16. The reason honey is so easy to digest is that it’s already been digested by a bee.
17. Roosters cannot crow if they cannot extend their necks.
18. The color blue has a calming effect. It causes the brain to release calming hormones.
19. Every time you sneeze some of your brain cells die.
20. Your left lung is smaller than your right lung to make room for your heart.
21. The verb “cleave” is the only English word with two synonyms which are antonyms of each other: adhere and separate.
22. When you blush, the lining of your stomach also turns red.
23. When hippos are upset, their sweat turns red.

29. The attachment of the human skin to muscles is what causes dimples.
31. The sound you hear when you crack your knuckles is actually the sound of nitrogen gas bubbles bursting.
32. Human hair and fingernails continue to grow after death.
33. It takes about 20 seconds for a red blood cell to circle the whole body.
36. The only part of the body that has no blood supply is the cornea in the eye. It takes in oxygen directly from the air.
37. Every day 200 million couples make love, 400,000 babies are born, and 140,000 people die.
38. In most watch advertisements the time displayed on the watch is 10:10 because then the arms frame the brand of the watch (and make it look like it is smiling).
40. The only 2 animals that can see behind itself without turning its head are the rabbit and the parrot.
41. Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
44. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
45. German Shepherds bite humans more than any other breed of dog.
46. Large kangaroos cover more than 30 feet with each jump.
47. Whip makes a cracking sound because its tip moves faster than the speed of sound.
49. If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle; if the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle; if the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural cause.
50. The human heart creates enough pressure while pumping to squirt blood 30 feet!

P.S. I took out those I thought weren't that amazing. :)


How to be happier - with a little help from Gretchen

I just finished reading Gretchen Rubin's very good book "The Happiness Project" (2009), her story about how she for an entire year worked practically and psychologically to become happier. She did this in the everyday family life she already had, instead of traveling to some other place to realize herself.

This is not a traditional self-help book, but a true and very rational story of how a privileged person didn't feel happy enough, started to read a lot of about the science and psychology of happiness - and managed through defined steps to change her mindset and habits and thus become happier in the process.

You don't have to read the book to learn from her experiences or follow her advice. She has a free "tool box" website with seven practical points to follow, and on her blog you can read about her experiences that year.

And if you want to buy the book for inspiration, check out the e-book edition (Amazon US or Amazon UK) or the paperback edition (Amazon US or Amazon UK)

Remember that you can use e.g. the free e-book software Calibre for PC and Mac to automatically convert any e-books you buy (including Kindle) to your device's format, it's very easy.

And fueled by Rubin's ambitions and success, I hereby declare that January will be the start of my own happiness project. Of course we all want to be happy, but I want to make it truly my priority from now on. Because if I am happy, I can be a better person for everyone else in my life and better know what I want.

Here's the publisher's description of her book:
"Rubin is not an unhappy woman: she has a loving husband, two great kids and a writing career in New York City. Still, she could - and, arguably, should - be happier. Thus, her methodical (and bizarre) happiness project: spend one year achieving careful, measurable goals in different areas of life (marriage, work, parenting, self-fulfillment) and build on them cumulatively, using concrete steps (such as, in January, going to bed earlier, exercising better, getting organized, and 'acting more energetic').

By December, she's striving bemusedly to keep increasing happiness in every aspect of her life. The outcome is good, not perfect (in accordance with one of her 'Secrets of Adulthood': 'Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good'), but Rubin's funny, perceptive account is both inspirational and forgiving, and sprinkled with just enough wise tips, concrete advice and timely research (including all those other recent books on happiness) to qualify as self-help.

Defying self-help expectations, however, Rubin writes with keen senses of self and narrative, balancing the personal and the universal with a light touch. Rubin's project makes curiously compulsive reading, which is enough to make any reader happy."

Kim Jong-il looking at things

"Kim Jong-il looking at things" is a very funny photo blog, collecting official propaganda pictures of the leader inspecting the gloriousness that is North Korea.

Here's an example:

Click here to see the whole blog. And who knows, maybe Kim Jong-un will become equally good at looking at things?


Never lose any data again, and make sure that no one else can access it

Want to make sure that you never lose any data again, and that no one else can access it?
Follow these tips:
1a) Get 5Gb free space in the clouds with SugarSync, a free service to automatically sync your data to their secure online servers. It will automatically backup in real-time your chosen folders and update the backup with whatever happens inside them.

1b) Or you can backup your whole computer PLUS your external harddisks to CrashPlan, it's maximum $5 per month for unlimited cloud space. They seem like the best and cheapest online backup provider.

2) Also use free backup software like SyncBack for PC or Carbon Copy Cloner for Mac (also Synkron is decent) to automatically and regularly backup up your internal disk to an external big harddisk. If you use the built-in Time Machine for Mac, be aware that you can't boot from your TM backup in case your internal drive dies - but Carbon Copy Cloner lets you do just that.

3) Make sure you password protect your computer, and if you have very personal data (who doesn't?) also consider encrypting the disk or selected folders with free software like BoxCryptor or TrueCrypt. This protects your data if someone should steal your computer and access your hard drive. For Mac you can also use the built-in FileVault.

If all this seems like a hassle, get a nerdy friend to help you out and serve him (it's usually a him) a nice home-cooked meal and a bottle of wine. :)

And remember - all hard drives always die. It's not a question of if, but when. So you absolutely need one or more backups. The best solution is to have everything backed up to an external drive PLUS an Internet cloud service like SugarSync and/or CrashPlan.