Thursday, May 31, 2007


Had a beer at Sudwerk last night with my friend Redwood. No agenda; simple liter hoisting and story telling. Before I had a chance to inquire about his wellbeing, Wood spoke: Did you know one quadrillion BTUs is equivalent to about 25 million tons of oil, 28 billion cubic meters of natural gas, 33 gigawatt-years of electricity, 60 million tons of coal, and 180 million barrels of oil? Having just completed a blog post, Redwood was fired up.

The discourse reminded me of Clifford Clavin in Cheers. Cliff would -- seemingly every episode – turn to Norm at the bar and exclaim, “Hey, Normy, it’s a little known fact that …” The facts were irrelevant, obscure, trivial morsels. We named them Clavinisms.

Like Redwood and Cliff, my late dad liked to collect and share obscure factoids. Sturgeon and potatoes were two of his favorite subjects. This morning I unearthed a parched note sheet, circa 2003. It formerly lived above his desk at Technology Development Center, a running list of little-known Clavinisms. A few chortle-inducers and eye-openers:

  • The largest thing in the universe is 1037 bigger than the smallest (Edward O. Wilson).
  • A single Canadian goose shits 3 lbs each day.
  • Every 10 seconds, 126,000 people drink a Coke.
  • California is 100 million acres large, half private and half public.
  • 28 million light bulbs are sold each day.
  • 10100 = a google (my seven-year-old knew this too; not I).
  • And (this would make Redwood happy), 200,000 cases of beer = 17,000 hectoliters.
We’ve got a lot of liter tipping and Clavinisming to go.


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