1. In 2008, I learned about giant, stinky flowers.
Here's a picture of one of them, the titan arum. (The scientific name of this gargantuan geranium is Amorphophallus titanum. And anybody who snickers will have to stay after class!)
OK, I'd read about these somewhere, sometime before. But for Heads or Tails #42 I spent some time with Wikipedia looking up and reporting on the details. A 2002 article in the National Geographic (linked from my original post) says that the scientific name "provides a clue as to why matrons of the Victorian age prevented young ladies from seeing" the flower in bloom. Looking at the pictures may provide another clue.
2. In 2008 I learned that Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island got busted for marijuana possession.
In March, I found out that Dawn Wells, the actress who portrayed Mary Ann on that landmark of western civilization, Gilligan's Island, had pleaded guilty to marijuana possession and was sentenced to six months unsupervised probation. You'll have to go to my original post to see the mug shot taken at the time of Ms. Wells' arrest. I prefer to think of her this way. *Sigh.* (I also found out that Ms. Wells was 69 at the time of her arrest. Yikes!)
3. In 2008 I learned that the printed due date on the credit card bill may not be the real date on which the bill is actually due.
Maybe everyone else knew this already, but I thought that when the credit card said payment was due on Day X and when the credit card company accepts payments on line, that one could pay the bill, on line, at any time on the due date and still be "on time" -- thereby avoiding the $39 late charge and jacked-up finance charges and the various other traps credit card companies set for the unwary.
That's what I thought.
When I found out differently, I blogged about it. A brief excerpt:
[T]his particular bill from Soulless Megabank, though large, was something I had hopes of paying off entirely by the due date... last Sunday, June 29.It all worked out happily, although I stressed more than a couple of blood vessels in my neck in the course of my discussions with the customer service people at Soulless Megabank.
It depended on funds being received... and the last of these trickled in on Friday the 27th. Now for one reason or another I couldn't get to the nearby branch of Soulless Megabank before 4:00 pm on Friday -- that being the latest time that one can pay in person without having the payment carry over until the next business day... Monday... which would have been a day late.
But I did not despair. I have online access to this account. I planned to pay the bill online. I recently did this with American Express: When I went to pay online, the site asked if I wanted to make the payment immediately... or if I wanted to make it on the due date itself.
Well, wouldn't you have done the same?
Thus my plan for the payment of the bill from Soulless Megabank.
I signed on.
I correctly remembered both my user name and password. I navigated successfully through the security challenges.
I brought up my bill... but when I went to pay it, Soulless Megabank said it would be only too happy to take my money, but it wouldn't post the payment until Monday, June 30. A day late. A day late? It was the evening of the 27th and the bill wasn't due until the 29th.
Bonus. In 2008 I learned that a lawyer from the South Side of Chicago can be elected President of the United States.
Not me! -- even though I'm a lawyer originally from the South Side of Chicago, I couldn't get elected dogcatcher. Of course, I already knew that.
Interestingly, although the President-Elect has very publicly identified with another Illinois lawyer, Abraham Lincoln, in some ways Mr. Obama more closely resembles the man Lincoln beat in 1860.
Stephen A. Douglas was a Chicago lawyer; Lincoln was from Sprinfield. Douglas was a U.S. Senator; Lincoln served only one term in the U.S. House (Douglas beat him in a race for the Senate in 1858). Lincoln was a Republican; Douglas was a Democrat.
Of course, Douglas favored the expansion of slavery into the territories (under the seemingly innocent-sounding doctrine of 'Popular Sovereignty')... so it's not hard to see why Mr. Obama was not eager to draw these parallels. And -- one other thing -- Camp Douglas, named for the Senator and situated on land provided by the Douglas Estate (the 'Little Giant' died in 1861) became infamous for the harsh treatment meted out there to Confederate prisoners of war. It has been called the Andersonville of the North.