September Recap

In case you missed a post or two this month, here’s a quick recap of what I wrote about during the month of September:

Questions I Asked –

Why Does The Hair On My Head Grow Longer Than The Hair On My Body? – Xie Qiuping set the Guinness World Record for longest hair on May 8th, 2004 when her hair was measured at 18 ft 5.54 in (5.627 m). Kenzo Tsuji holds the Guinness World Record for longest arm hair at 7.44 in (18.90 cm). Find out why one is so much longer.

How Was The Length Of A Marathon Determined? – I’ve always wondered how they came up with that length, 26.2 miles. Why not 26 or 27? And what is that distance in kilometers? Let’s find out in an edition of Wonder Why Wednesday.


Things We Learned –

A New Maury C. Moose Book Is On Its Way – Check out the post from here, here and here for more information.

Why I Will Never Run A Marathon – Its not that I don’t know how. There is much more to it than that.

What You Must Do If You Do To The Narrows At Zion National Park – Hint: it takes some work.

What Inspired The Above Post About The Narrows – I speak from experience when I say it takes some work.


Fun With Numbers –

5 Good Things – There may be a lot going wrong in our world these days, but this month was the easiest month to find good news stories. That gives me hope that not all is negative out there.

5 Things We Can Learn From Chapstick – In the installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we talk about something that I use everyday.

5 Fun Facts About Lip Balm – Another post about lip balm? That’s right. #3 is pretty amazing.

3 Ways to Avoid Decision Quicksand – Find out why I am the Peyton Manning of making decisions and what I can do to change.

5 Good Things

Having a rough week? Feel like there is nothing but negative stories online, on TV and in the newspaper? Looking for a little pick me up?

Here are 5 good things going on in our world…

  1. Southwest Airlines Flew A Cabin Full Of Animals Out Of Storm-Hit Houston– Dozens of cats and dogs were flown to San Diego for adoption, freeing up space in Texas shelters.
  2. Pitbull sends private plane to bring cancer patients from Puerto Rico to US for chemo – The music superstar is sending his private jet to the U.S. territory to help ferry cancer patients to the mainland for chemo treatments.
  3. Hero dog saves lives following earthquake in Mexico – Frida, the beloved Labrador rescue dog, has been dispatched to Mexico City to help search for survivors caught in the rubble.
  4. Texas Woman Uses Her Extreme Couponing Skills To Help Hurricane Victims – Kimberly Gager has helped dozens of families who have stopped by her home to pick up goods after hearing of her generosity by word of mouth or on Facebook.
  5. Hero Groom Saves Boy From Drowning During Wedding Photo Shoot – Newlyweds Clayton and Brittany Cook were posing for photos on a park bridge in in Kitchener, Ontario when Clayton noticed a little boy struggling to swim in the river. With no concern for his wedding attire, Clayton jumped into the water and pulled the boy out.

Why Does The Hair On My Head Grow Longer Than The Hair On My Body?

Xie Qiuping set the Guinness World Record for longest hair on May 8th, 2004 when her hair was measured at 18 ft 5.54 in (5.627 m).

Kenzo Tsuji holds the Guinness World Record for longest arm hair at 7.44 in (18.90 cm).

Both have far more hair than any of us will ever have, but it raises the question: why does the hair on our heads grow much longer than the hair on our bodies? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

Why Does The Hair On My Head Grow Longer Than The Hair On My Body?

To learn why our head hair is longer than our arm hair we first must understand how hair growth works.

The Washington Post explains it this way:

All hair and fur grows in cycles. In the anagen phase, a protein root down in your hair follicle starts accumulating cells that form into a rope-like structure we know as hair. Your scalp’s blood supply feeds the follicle and allows it to divide into more cells. As long as the anagen phase lasts, your hair will grow longer and longer, unless you cut or break it, at a rate of about a half-inch each month.”

The growth cycle for head hair varies for each of us, but it usually lasts a few years. At the end of the cycle the follicle slowly withers and the hair new cells no longer get fed.

The reason our body hair is much shorter is because their growth cycle is much shorter. The hair on our arms, legs and other parts of our body may have a cycle that lasts just a few weeks, rather than years. In less than a month, our body signals to the hair follicle that its time is done and the dead strand either falls off or is moved out by a new one as the new anagen phase begins.

Just one week away!

Maury C. Moose and The Basketball ChamPUNship, will be released next Tuesday, October 3rd. You are just a week away from reading if Maury can compete against Lamb Bron James, Cat Melo Anthony and dozens of other superstar players.

Here’s a sneak peek of the 1st page of the book.

Five Fun Facts About Lip Balm

Yesterday, I wrote about 5 things we can learn from chapstick. As I researched that post, I learned some interesting things about lip balm. Here are a few things I learned:

  1. In the 1800s, a woman named Lydia Maria Child recommended earwax as a treatment for cracked lips in her highly-popular book, The American Frugal Housewife. This book is still available on Amazon today and is described as “a ‘must’ for every bride of the mid-1800s.”
  2. Lip balm was first marketed in the 1880s by a pharmacist and inventor named Charles Browne Fleet. Also the inventor of laxative and enemas, this guy’s interests were apparently very different from the cartoon character who shares a similar name.
  3. In 1912, the rights to Chapstick were sold to a guy named John Morton for five dollars.
  4. In the early 1950s, a commercial artist named Frank Wright Jr. was paid a whopping $15 to create the Chapstick logo, which is still used today.
  5. One of the main ingredients is something called Carnauba wax. This is also called Brazil wax, which I was afraid to Google, but I am hoping is very different from a Brazilian wax.

5 Things We Can Learn From Chapstick

The great thing about learning is that it is not confined to certain times or locations. Learning can happen anytime, anywhere.

I like to highlight this fact by, once a month, looking at things we encounter on a daily basis and seeing what important lesson we can from them.

In today’s installment of “Five Things We Can Learn From Everyday Objects” we are going to talk about something that I use everyday…

5 Things We Can Learn From Chapstick

1. Habits Are Powerful

Every time I leave my house I check for four things — my keys, cell phone wallet and chapstick. I will not go on my way until I pat down my pockets and confirm I have all four. I can’t remember when this started, but it became a habit of mine and now I do it without thinking. It is so burned into my brain that I would probably forget to wear underwear before I forgot chapstick.

2. It Is Easy To Overlook All The Details

I need to amend the above statement. I don’t leave the house without my keys, cell phone, wallet and lip balm. I rarely have the actual brand Chapstick, but that doesn’t stop me from referring to my lip balm as such. This is what is called a generic trademark. This is when a brand name takes over a generic name due to popularity. Just like how a Band-Aid is actually an adhesive bandage. I bet you may not even know you do this for many brands. Want to find out? Here’s a fun list of generic trademarks.

3. A Little Goes A Long Way

I used to have a chapstick (or lip balm) problem. I figured that if a little was good, a lot was better so I would cake the stuff on. My lips were so greasy, that it looked like I had just been smooching a stick of butter. After awhile I learned that with so much chapstick on, butter was the only think I would have a change of kissing, so I dialed it way back.

4. People Want Variety

There are hundreds of versions of lip balm. You can choose based on brands, packaging, flavors, strengths and price. There are very few things where one size fits all.

5. Can Find Ways To Turn Anything Into Anything

When doing research for this post I learned that chapstick played a role in the Watergate scandal. Apparently the chapstick contained hidden microphones used by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, the leaders of the Watergate break-in team. Here’s a picture of them.

3 Ways to Avoid Decision Quicksand

I am the Peyton Manning of making decisions. Not because I am a record setting, future Hall of Famer, but because of how long it takes to get things in motion. Like Manning switching plays at the line of scrimmage, just barely beating the play-clock, I constantly change my mind and take way too much time to make even the smallest of choices.

What should I order from the menu? What clothes should I wear in the morning? You’d think those choices would be easy given that I only like about 5 different foods and I only own about 5 different shirts, but somehow those tiny decisions can take forever.

In today’s edition of I Wish I Wrote It, author Jonah Berger takes a look at why these trivial decisions can take so much time. Berger calls this phenomenon “Decision Quicksand” and explains just how common it really is.

Luckily for us, Berger outlines 3 ways that we can avoid this pitfall. Check it out here.

3 Ways to Avoid Decision Quicksand

A Tale of Training, Discipline and Nipple Tape

As I wrote yesterday, I will probably never run a marathon.

But I’ve always wished that I could say that I have. Unfortunately, there are two things holding me back…a bad knee and a lack of motivation. The second one is a bigger restraint than the first.

Even though I may never run a marathon, that doesn’t mean I don’t know how. It is pretty simple actually. All you have to do is run.

I don’t mean to say that running a marathon is simple, it is not. It takes a great deal of training, discipline and nipple tape.

I just mean that the strategy of how to run a marathon is something we all can comprehend.

Can the same be said about overcoming fear?

Think about it.

I know I may give in to fear from time to time, but deep down I also know how to overcome it. It is pretty simple actually.

It takes training, discipline and nipple tape. Okay, maybe not that last one.

In his new book, What to do When it’s Your Turn (and its always your turn), Seth Godin compares running to failing.

“Consider our avoidance of feeling tired,” Godin writes.

If you’re unwilling to be tired, unwilling to feel fatigue in your legs, you can’t run a marathon. Successful marathon runners haven’t figured out how to avoid being tired, they’ve figured out where to put the tired when it arrives. If you’re not willing to be tired, you can’t run.”

He goes on to say, “If you’re not willing to imagine failure, you’re unable to be free.”

If we want to do great things, we won’t be able to avoid fear, in much the same way be won’t be able to avoid getting out of breath if we run 26 miles. But that is okay. No one is asking us to figure out a magic potion to avoid fear.

We just need to figure out where to put it when it arrives.

How Was The Length Of A Marathon Determined?

I will probably never run a marathon, but I can definitely appreciate how difficult a marathon must be. I have a hard enough time running 6.2 miles, that I can imagine how long 26.2 miles must feel like.

I’ve always wondered how they came up with that length, 26.2 miles. Why not 26 or 27? And what is that distance in kilometers? Let’s find out in today’s edition of Wonder Why Wednesday…

How Was The Length Of A Marathon Determined?

Before I started researching this topic, I figured that a marathon was such an odd number of miles because it was a whole number of kilometers.

I was wrong. A marathon is 42.195 kilometers. So if it isn’t a whole number of miles or kilometers, where did the distance come from?

First some history…

The name “marathon” comes from the legend of Pheidippides, a Greek messenger, who ran from the city of Marathon to Athens to deliver the message that the Greeks had defeated the Persians in the 490 BC Battle of Marathon.

The most common route and the one Pheidippides would have used on his journey, is roughly 26 miles.

The marathon has been an Olympic event since the birth of the Modern Olympics in 1896. However, from the first Modern Olympics through 1920, a span of seven Olympics, a total of six different distances were used in the marathon.

  • 24.85 miles in 1896 and 1904
  • 25.02 miles in 1900
  • 26.01 miles in 1906
  • 26.22 miles in 1908
  • 24.98 miles in 1912
  • 26.56 miles in 1920

In 1921, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) figured it was time to determine an official distance for the marathon. They chose the 1908 Olympic distance of 26.22 miles (or 26 miles and 385 yards) which has been the official distance for the marathon ever since.

The course for the 1908 Olympic marathon was set to begin at the Windsor Castle and end with a lap inside White City Stadium. In order to have the race finish in front of the Queen of England and her Royal Box, the final lap was shortened to a partial lap. The distance from Windsor Castle to White City Stadium was 26 miles and the shortened lap was 385 yards. Thus the official length of the marathon was set.

Why did they pick the 1908 distance, you ask?

Because the 1908 Olympic marathon was one of the most famous marathons ever. Italian Dorando Pietri led as he entered the Olympic Stadium. He was well ahead of the competition but because the temperature was so hot, he was dehydrated and could barely walk. In fact, he was woozy that he fell numerous times on the final lap and even started running the wrong direction. As the other runners entered the stadium, Pietri was so close, but it was clear he could not finish on his own. Olympic officials decided to help him across the finish line.

Johnny Hayes from the United Stated finished second. The US protested the assisted finish and Pietri was disqualified. Hayes was awarded the Gold Medalist.

So there you have it. A controversial finish, an altered route and the Queen of England all helped determined the length of the marathon. And that length is still going strong 100+ years later.

Here are some fun marathon facts:

  • Fastest time by a female – 2:15:25 by Paula Radcliffe of Kenya on September 29, 2013
  • Fastest time by a male – 2:02:57 by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya on September 28, 2014
  • On September 28, 2014, not only did Dennis Kimetto break the record, but Emmanuel Mutai, also of Kenya, also broke the old record of 2:03:23, with his finish of 2:03:13. He broke the record but had to settle for 2nd place.
  • Oldest finisher – Fauja Singh was 100 years old when he finished in 2011. But he could not produce an official birth certificate from India, so his record is not accepted by the official governing body.
  • Youngest finisher – Budhia Singh from India finished at just 3 years. His coach was later arrested for exploiting and being cruel to the child. Shocker.
  • There are approximately 500 marathons organized worldwide with roughly 550,000 finishers every year.



Sources: LA Times & Wikipedia