In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at booklocker.com or amazon.com.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Joanne Palmer's Life in the 'Boat column appears Wednesdays in the Steamboat Today. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Find more columns by Palmer here.
Steamboat Springs I just finished reading "The Book of Useless Information," a quirky little reference book that is oddly uplifting. It is a compendium of facts and figures compiled by The Useless Information Society - a secret society comprised of Britain's foremost thinkers, writers and artists - which seems like a pretty lofty title for people who sit around coming up with factoids such as these: "Grasshoppers have white blood. Butterflies taste with their hind feet. An armadillo can walk underwater. A scallop has 35 eyes, all blue. A tuna will suffocate if it ever stops swimming."
As far as I can tell the society is comprised of 30 men, five named "John," which is not really worth noting, which may be how you feel about the rest of the information in this column. For instance, my life has not suffered or been impaired by not knowing that Elvis failed his music class in school, William Taft got stuck in his bathtub on his Inauguration Day and a jiffy is an actual unit of time: one-hundredth of a second. Thus the saying, "I will be there in a jiffy."
Although I have been able to live a pretty darn interesting life without knowing the above facts, I have to say there is a lot of information in this book to support various arguments I have made throughout the years, such as, "Matrimonial pollsters contend that a man who kisses his wife good-bye when he leaves for work every morning averages a higher income than a man who doesn't."
If that doesn't change your guy's smooching habits, try this: "It has also been documented that men who kiss their wives before leaving home in the morning live five years longer than those who don't."
Tell him it doesn't have to be a long kiss, like the one that made the "Guinness Book of World Records" at 417 hours - slightly longer than 17 days - which would probably use up most of his vacation time and leave both of you with severely chapped lips.
There is also a lot of information in this book that puts into perspective some of my own oddities, like having to apply clear nail polish to my fingernails while writing a column and scouring the kitchen sink.
I also have a deep and unnatural phobia of being stuck on an airplane with the wrong book. This fear is so pervasive that I travel with an unnatural amount of reading material that weighs as much, if not more than, the clothes I take. Then I always buy something else to read at the airport newsstand.
However, I think the following behavior trumps mine: Every time Beethoven sat down to write music, he poured ice water over his head. Goethe could only write if he had an apple rotting in the drawer of his desk, and Salvador Dali once arrived at an art exhibition in a limousine filled with turnips. Pretty strange stuff until you consider that 40,000 Americans are injured by toilets every year - what are they doing in there? Napoleon Bonaparte was afraid of cats, and in Minnesota, it is illegal for women to be dressed up as Santa Claus on city streets.
While on the subject of Santa, holidays and sink-scouring, I discovered that Nov. 29 is National Sinky Day, a day to eat over one's sink and worship it. Nov. 19 is Have a Bad Day Day. The most common name for a goldfish is "Jaws." And arachibutyrophobia is the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth.
Armed with this information, you are sure to be able to make social chitchat at the next party you attend or, if you decide to buy the book, you'll never make the mistake of putting a skunk in your boss's desk in the state of Michigan. It's illegal.