Trick or Treat

Dorothy Parker once attended a Halloween party where she noticed a group of people around a tub of water. She asked what they were doing and was told they were ducking for apples.

“There, but for a typographical error,” she said, “is the story of my life.”


Christian Henry Heinecken, born at Lubeck, in 1721, spoke his mother tongue fluently at ten months of age; at one year old he knew the principal events of the Pentateuch; in two months more he was master of the entire histories of the Old and New Testaments; at two years and a half he answered the principal questions of geography, and in ancient and modern history. He spoke Latin, French, German, and Dutch with facility before the commencement of his fourth year. His constitution was so delicate that he was not weaned till a few months before his death which occurred in 1725.

Bizarre Notes & Queries, April 1886

The Old Man of the Lake

In his 1902 geology of Oregon’s Crater Lake, Joseph Diller mentioned that he’d seen a great stump bobbing vertically in the lake six years earlier, in 1896.

It’s still there. Apparently the lake is so cold that it’s preserved the 30-foot stump for more than a century. And the “old man” is pretty spry: In 1938, when the sketch above was made, the log wandered more than 62 miles in one three-month period.

In a Word

n. a side road taken to avoid turnpike tolls or traffic

(Thanks, David.)

Texas Dark

In 1884, America got its first serial killer. The “Servant Girl Annihilator” of Austin, Texas, would drag his victims from their beds, rape them, then kill them with an ax or a spike. In a yearlong spree he murdered at least seven women. Then he disappeared.

Three years later, Jack the Ripper surfaced in London.

See also Långrocken.

Triple Play

Jesse James once sought shelter at a lonely farmhouse. The widow there apologized for her poor hospitality. She said she had very little money and despaired of paying the debt collector, who was coming imminently to demand $1,400.

James gave her $1,400 and told her to get a receipt. Then he hid outside and watched the road.

The debt collector arrived, looking grim, and entered the house. A few minutes later he emerged, looking pleased.

James accosted him, took back the $1,400, and rode off.

Math Notes

28 + 48 + 68 + 78 + 88 + 08 + 58 + 08 = 24678050

A Scottish Enigma

In the course of some structural alterations to an ancient house near Edinburgh three unknown rooms were brought to light, bearing testimony of their last inmate. One of them had been occupied as a bedroom. The clothing of the bed was disarranged, as if it had been slept in only a few hours previously, and close by was an antique dressing-gown. How interesting it would be to know some particulars of the sudden surprise which evidently drove the owner of the garment from his snug quarters — whether he effected his escape, or whether he was captured! The walls of this buried chamber, if they could speak, had some curious story to relate.

— Allan Fea, Secret Chambers and Hiding-Places, 1908


Place two white rooks and a white knight on this board so that Black is checkmated:

The solution need not be reachable in a normal game.

Click for Answer


“Wit is educated insolence.” — Aristotle